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High fatalies with captive monarchs

14 years ago

I'm having really bad problems this year... I'm killing more than I'm keeping alive...

I collected some eggs this year, I found one already hatched caterpillar and I ordered about 10 caterpillar eggs.

The first batch of eggs I found hatched but died shortly after. I sterilized the eggs in a 100 ppm Oxine solutionfor ten minutes. I did not sterilize the leaves (which are in my butterfly garden) and I kept the caterpillars in the same enclosure.

The already hatched caterpillar I found has been healthy, I kept her alone and I did not sterilize the leaves I gave her. I released her yesterday. She didn't show any signs of being infected with oe or anything, but I didn't check her scales under a microscope.

The 10 caterpillar eggs that I ordered hatched in the mail so I didn't get a chance to sterilize them. I have them in a group and I began by giving them unsterilized leaves. One by one they started dying so I started giving them sterilized leaves (ten minutes in a 100 ppm Oxine solution) but they're still dying. When I find the dead caterpillars, they're limp and seem to be some what deflated. I don't see spots that resemble dirt on them, which I read would indicate an oe spore infection.

I'm going to separate them in to individual containers now, and I'm scrubbing the leaves to remove any aphids that don't get rinsed off before I'm sterilizing the leaves. I don't know if this will improve anything.

Recently I found two eggs and I sterilized both eggs and I've only been giving them sterilized leaves. I am also keeping them in separate containers. Well, tonight I found one dead with what looks like a spider in the container. I have no idea what got in but I haven't been scrubbing the leaves up until now.

All the rearing containers and tools have been sterilized before use. I've been trying for good circulation with cuttings holes in the tops of the containers and creating a screen with a coffee filter. It hasn't improved the survival rates.

Can anyone help? I don't like being a murderer but I don't know what I'm doing wrong... I've never had such high fatalities and I've been doing this for a few summers now. I don't breed them but I collect eggs and caterpillars that I find for captive rearing and then I release them when they emerge from chrysalises.

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