If you have been reading and keeping up with my Blog, you might be thinking, with so many predators, is it really feasable to raise Monarch butterflies? Yes, it is. You just have to learn what predators are out there and then devise a strategy to protect them. That's largely what this Blog is dedicated to doing. So, whether you are a teacher, parent, student or butterfly enthusiast, you will find helpful suggestions to help you avoid the problems that one can encounter when raising Monarch butterflies.
Today, as I stewed about how many caterpillars I had lost to fire ants, I decided to try a technique I had read about to try and protect them. It involves building a water mote around your butterfly pavillion. This is very helpful if your caterpillars are outdoors, because even in a pavillion, ants can crawl through the little holes and kill your Monarch cats. Here's what you do:
1. Get four extra large matching bowls and four flat faced stones. (I used two bricks cut in half.)
2. Place a stone in each bowl.
3. Set your table legs on top of the stones.
4. Fill the bowls with water.
5. Make sure your table/pavillion is not in contact with anything except the stones it is setting on.
The water acts like a castle mote and prevents the fire ants from getting to the table legs and into your pavillion. Please note, though, that this is not always a perfect fix. Ants are very persistant. In some cases, they have been known to plunge into the water and drown by the thousands until their dead bodies accumulated to the point where they made a bridge across the water, and the remaining living ants could cross over. However, it is a good place to start.
Lastly, you can spray some ant poison on the table legs or on the rocks in the bowls to add an additional deterent. However, let me add that you must be very cautious in using any kind of poison or pesticide, since the Monarch butterflies are very susceptible to any such chemicals and will die quickly if they come into contact with them. Also, make sure that no children, pets or other wild animals come into contact with such contaminants either.
Some folks chose to try and avoid the predators by raising the caterpillars totally indoors. This is possible, but if you want to raise large numbers of Monarchs, you'll probably end up having to do much of it outdoors. If that's the case, hopefully this Blog entry and others like it will help you protect your precious Monarchs.
Caleb & Janae Warren