Raising monarch butterflies to help the species
These three monarch butterflies are drying their wings after emerging from their cocoons. Photographer Mary Lou Endres notes, "I raise monarch butterflies from caterpillars every summer and release them after their wings are dry. The monarch population has taken a massive hit due to loss of habitat. The caterpillars eat only milkweed leaves and farming and weed killers has decimated the population."
There are several ways to help monarch butterflies, including planting milkweed in your yard to provide them with food and a place to lay their eggs. But you could take it a step farther by raising them yourself. It is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of these insects, and would be a fascinating way to teach children about the lifecycles of butterflies. Basically you simply scan milkweed plants for eggs. Bring them in and when they hatch, provide daily food in the form of fresh milkweed, a clean shelter with plenty of ventilation, and time. And that's it! Monarch Lab of the University of Minnesota provides great instructions which also underscore how easy it is to raise monarchs from eggs. Texas Butterfly Ranch also provides details with photos.