About the Texas Butterfly Ranch

The Texas Butterfly Ranch results from a lifelong interest in the outdoors, and a more recent fascination with butterflies and their life cycle.

Monika Maeckle, Texas Butterfly Ranch  photo: Nicolas Rivard

Monika Maeckle, Texas Butterfly Ranch

Exploring the creek as a kid ranked as my favorite after-school pastime.  Digging in the dirt came naturally. And I relished helping my parents tend their radish and tomato garden, an endeavor that sustains me to this day.

Becoming a Master Gardener, managing a weekend ranch for wildlife, and discovering that our stretch of the Llano River lay in the path of the magnificent Monarch migration amplified my butterfly passion.  When I realized the pecan trees on our riverbanks of the Llano served as roost to thousands of Monarch butterflies each Fall, I was hooked.

What struck me most was that they had always been there, I just hadn’t noticed. Now, I do. I encourage readers to do the same.

Soon I was raising caterpillars in my yard and kitchen and researching host plants to add to my garden and the ranch.

People often ask:  So, where is the Texas Butterfly Ranch?

I like to say it’s a state of mind.  In my case, the geographic collective of Austin, San Antonio and the Hill Country.

On these pages we hope to educate, inspire and explore the life cycle we all share by focusing on butterflies in all their stages–from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.  We’ll also look at host plants, because without them, the life cycle wouldn’t be possible. I wish for each reader that you witness the daily miracle of metamorphosis and the eclosure of a butterfly.  You will be irrevocably touched.

Thanks for stopping by.   See you outside.


144 thoughts on “About the Texas Butterfly Ranch

  1. HI! I need to get in touch with someone ASAP to see if there are still any Monarchs in San Antonio. I am doing a project for the University of Georgia and need to do some harmless testing – they’re looking for information on Monarchs infected with OE. Please contact me if you know where I can locate some Monarchs to sample (they will be released unharmed as soon as I am done). Thank you!

      • In one and a half years I have identified 19 different butterflies in my small butterfly garden in Tampa Bay Florida area one is only seen in Texas and Florida the gold rimmed poly Damus higher photos and clips of the whole process except chrysalis and would share them with you willingly signed Joe

        • Texas is the State with by far the most species of butterflies (430 Species!)
          Florida has only 200 Species, less then the half of Texas..

    • Monika,
      Is this blog still active? I’m a teacher looking to purchase 50 Monarch larvae to feed & grow in our elementary school for next year. We don’t want delivery after 8/25/14.

  2. Monika – I found the Milkweed patch today near the Pearl Brewery . . . Was able to catch 6 Monarchs to sample them for the OE parasite and then release them again where I found them. I also noted 5 big fat caterpillars munching away on the Milkweed 🙂 SOOO glad I came across the article about this place! Thanks!

  3. Hi I would like to get in touch with someone who could answer some questions I have about Monarch Butterflies. Please contact me via email asap! Thank You!

  4. I know it’s a little late in the game this year but there needs to be a monarch fiesta medal!!! Proceeds could maybe go to milkweed patches???

  5. Hi! Do you have any advice for raising monarchs in captivity in a greenhouse? I have potted milkweed and nectar plants available, but a wondering if it’s difficult to get the females to lay eggs in an enclosure.

    • Hi Carol,
      Raising Monarchs in a greenhouse can be easy and fun, but there’s also possibilities of disease for the plants and the caterpillars. If you have gravid females on hand, they should lay eggs on milkweed if the temperature and moisture is right. I suggest following Monarch Watch’s Facebook or checking out their rearing Monarchs section on their website at http://www.monarchwatch.org. Good luck!


  6. hi…i’m also interested in your response to the above question AND i wonder if it’s possible to PURCHASE –for birthday gifting to young butterfly enthusiasts– butterfly cocoons/chrysalises for presents that open themselves?

    • Hi Terry,
      You can definitely purchase Monarchs and other butterflies in all stages–from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis or cocoon. Goto the International Butterfly Breeders’ Association site at http://www.butterflylbreeders.org for a list of reputable breeders. I suggest trying to stay close to home if you can in terms of who you order from. Good luck!


  7. I am on a Maine island and would like to travel to Texas and/or Morelia to see the Monarchs migration. I went to four sanctuaries last January and was hooked forever. Can you give me any information on how/where/when to go ? Thank you

  8. I am on a Maine island and would like to visit Texas and/or Mexico/Morelia to see the migration. I went to four sanctuaries last January and would like to know how/when they come thru Texas and get to Michoacan, etc. if you please. Thank you

  9. Thanks for your speedy reply. Apparently Bill Calvert isn’t doing trips now. I read about him in Sue Halpern’s book. I’ll keep trying.

    • It can be quite dangerous with the narco violence and lack of justice, thus many operators are not offering tours, given the liability issues. Unfortunate. –MM

  10. Hi Monika! Just wanted to comment that I love your “About” page. Last year, I began the Maryland Master Naturalist program. Like you, I spent so much time outdoors. As I learned more about the natural world, my biggest insight is that: It’s been there all along, I just didn’t notice! Now I do and am immersed in it. I look forward to following your blog and making use of the educational material. Besides volunteering, I now have a part-time naturalist position at a nearby park, and I’ve started a neighborhood nature group.

    • Good for you, Neita. I would love to be doing that if I could get out of working full-time. Some day. Keep up the good work and thanks for the kind words and checking in.–Monika

  11. I love the Monarchs and learning more about them. My dream is to see them migrating in large numbers and my husband said he would take e somewhere for our anniversary in February. Can you tell me which area would be the best place to go in the U.S. and is February a good time to see spring migration?

  12. I’d like to know the answer to that too, Monika, since apparently no one can tell me when/where to go to see the migration this Fall. I was in Michoacan in the end of January and that was definitely too early and cold.

  13. Hi there,

    Do you happen to be someone or know of someone who fixes broken butterfly wings? I found a great website in which a guy explains how to do so (but he lives in Boca Raton) and I’m afraid I’ll only make it worse if I try. I found a monarch butterfly who appears as if a cat found him first. I just want to help the poor guy get a second chance at flying.


  14. Hi I have written a wonderful children’s book about a true story my son and I had with a Monarch that we rescued in the US Midwest in Oct. She lived 3 months with us and then we took a very special journey with her. I have presented the book in English and Spanish and it is available on Amazon.com
    I would love to partner with an organization that could purchase a quantity to distribute to Mexican children living in the Micheocan region. Many of them do not go to school but there this story could be distributed thru Mexican organizations such as WWF . I have approached them but never get response. Any ideas?? I can email you a small file of the book if you would like to read it and send me your email address.
    Thanks Mariosa

  15. Monika, I am a 2nd grade teacher and we study the life cycle of insects and particularly butterflies. We received some caterpillars and are watching the life cyle process in our classrooms. As a celebration of our learning we are having a Butterfly Festival on April 19 at our school. We would like to have an expert come and set up a table and some sort of exhibit and speak to the kids about butterflies. Would you or someone you know be willing to come be part of our butterfly festival?

    Jodie Meyer

  16. Hey Monica,

    I am new to the butterfly deal here in SA. I have just finished a butterfly hotel near the medical center. I would like to do butterfly, hummingbird and bee raised bed garden construction demonstrations. Who should I get in touch with ?

    Thanks ,,,,,, JBBoykin

    • Patricia, try the Zilker Butterfly Garden. Also, check out the Austin Butterfly Forum. They meet once a month and sometimes organize tours and outings. Have fun!

  17. Hello! I am writing an article for Edible Austin about the monarchs and the impact of their migration on the food systems in Central Texas. (I was inspired by “Flight of the Butterflies”!). I would love to talk to you as it seems you are all-wise as to the very subject! I saw that you suggested Austin Butterfly Forum in a previous comment, I will definitely check that out too.

    Thank you for your time!
    Cari Marshall

  18. This is my first time trying to help butterflies. I ordered a cage on line and am buying a dozen milkweed plants tomorrow. I ordered eggs/caterpillars on line and thought they would wait until cool weather to send them to me but was notified that they’re on their way. Can they survive in this Austin heat?
    do I need to put them in my refrigerator for a while to keep them cool? Should I mist the plants every day to be sure they’re juicy? Help! The “babies” are due very soon!

    • The breeder will likely send the caterpillars with ice to keep them fresh. They should also supply directions on their care, so ask your supplier. Mthanks for writing. MM

  19. I am part of a company opening s new hospital in the Oct -Nov 2013 time frame. A balloon release is out of the question but we are thinking of alternatives. A butterfly release has come up and we really like this idea. We do not however know if it’s possible or even where to start looking. Can you help me with this ? Thank you ……


  20. This morning I discovered a huge tomato hornworm on my tomato plant in its Growbox. Then I saw more, in all sizes, as I photographed the munching huge ones, with their faces inside a green tomato &on leaves. I will let them have the plants. How long before they leave or become moths? Your website is wonderful. I can’t stop watching them… pat

    • Thanks for the kind words, Pat. I honestly don’t know everything about the Sphinx moth life cycle. They drop to the ground and burrow under the earth a little bit and I’m betting they can be unpredictable in their emergence. Perhaps our friend Google has the answer? She knows everything. Thanks for writing. MM

  21. Of ten eggs ordered on line, I had 7 caterpillars until last night. This morning I awoke to two dried up and dead on the floor of the cage. Two were on the ground curled up but alive, one is unaccounted for. The other two are still on the tropical milkweed plant and seem to be okay. The seven had devoured the first plant and I put in a second one (potted but from outside). I now notice there is scale on the bottoms of the leaves of the new plant. Is that what killed the cats? Thank you.

  22. I have just had the same problem and only thing I can think of is maybe my milkweed is tough and old at the end of the seAson. They arrived from Butterfly Lady in perfect condition. (I had just had Painted Lady cats and they all lived and two mated before I gave them to a school and they released them.)

  23. Hello – this is a wonderful website & resource! Thank you.

    We read about the tomato caterpillar on your site. My son found it today. It was on a moon flower plant and happily eating away. But we are in Ohio and it is now mid-Oct. Do you know what they do in the fall to winter over? It is quite large arleady, so I assume it is close to burying itself. My son would like to try to keep it and see it emerge and then release, but we don’t want it to emerge in the winter and have nothing to eat…

    Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!

    • HI Amy, I believe the Hornworms can overwinter in the soil. They drop down and burrow in the soil a bit and eclose, or hatch, when conditions are favorable. If you want to try and do it inside where you can watch, get a cage and have potting soil in it and they will do their thing right in there. I have never been able to do it successfully, but others have told me it’s possible. Also, consult the Google. She knows EVERYTHING! Good luck! Monika

  24. Hi Monica – This spring, we planted several butterfly plants in our Houston garden. Sadly, it didn’t attract the butterflies we expected. Then in September, I discovered one small monarch caterpillar on the Asclepias (butterfly weed). We excitedly watched/photographed his growth stages through chrysalis to butterfly. Last week I discovered another huge cat and one tiny cat on the same plant. Yesterday, I found another 5 small cats on that same plant! I’m worried b/c there aren’t enough leaves remaining on that plant for that many cats. I purchased another plant yesterday, planning to plant it beside the original–but I’m worried the nursery may have used pesticides b/c there were no cats on any of the 20 plants they had. Can the plants be washed to remove pesticides? Can the cats be moved to other plants (the same plants are growing in my backyard)? I’d appreciate any tips you have to share…

  25. Hi Monika,
    What a great site! You might be able to help… I’m working on a documentary about the monarch, but it has a special angle. I’m filming people who have seen them when someone has passed away, and their link to Day of the Dead in Mexico. Here’s a site that explains it: http://www.the-journey-film.com.

    I’m wondering if you can help me get the word out to your list? I’m wondering what other stories might be out there.

    Thank you in advance,

  26. We want to plant some milkweeds on our 20 acres east of Austin in Blackland Prairie soils. I’ve seen antelope horn milkweeds growing in roadsides, but they’re mowed before seed set. Is there a local source for seeds?


    • Hi Sharon, I just found this site so I hope you’ve already discovered: http://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market/
      At the bottom of the page is a map of the U.S. Find your location and the table shows what native milkweeds grow in your area. I live near Dallas and we have Green Antelopehorn Milkweed. You can purchase seeds or plugs (32 in a flat). Happy planting!

  27. Hi, your site is inspirational, thank you. I’m in the UK and right now we’re experiencing a very early spring/mild winter so the butterflies are out but their flowers aren’t. We’re encouraging home-made feeders and are making food for them. Once upon a time I was sure I’d seen something about people putting up lots of feeders in their gardens to help sustain the Monarchs on their migration – I know there are Hummingbird feeders put up but thought I’d seen the butterfly ones. Do you, or anyone reading this, know anything about this and where we can find information? It’s to inspire people and see what can be done.
    Thank you so much.

  28. Pingback: Make Room In Your Garden to Help Save the Monarch Butterfly. | Ravenscourt Gardens

  29. planning to make a trip to Wild Seed Farms; would like to find your “ranch.”
    Please give dates for any events (your calendar is empty)

    Dr. Cindy

      • Great. I belong to the Westside Lions Club which is part of International Lions that is a nonprofit organization helping our local community with sight issues. I am responsible for obtaining interesting speakers for our meetings. I need a speaker for April 1st or June 3rd. We meet at Lisa ‘s Restaurant on Bandera Rd. Near Wpodlawn. You would be our guest for dinner. Your presentation would be shortly after 7pm. Please let me know if you are available either of those dates. Thank you for your considertion. Letty

  30. I found your page today and loved it! I wanted some advice–I travel a lot for business and recently restarted raising monarch butterflies again….as I LOVE them. However, I literally have about 70+ caterpillars and my lil some that I put the plants in is just too small. Is there a better dome that is taller to fit more plants in? I have friends who can help out when I travel but desperately need some quick help on getting a new mesh freestanding system. Can you please advise so I can quickly order and get this set up before my next trip?

    I have many more questions but this is the most pressing. Thanks in advance! ~ Tanya

    • Just Google “pop up cages” and you’ll find plenty of vendors that sell them. People use them for butterflies, but also for plant storage, like a temporary greenhouse. I have a really big one that’s about 4 x 6 feet that I have used when leaving for vacation, putting all the milkweed and fennel pots in there to let the caterpillars feast in my absence. Good luck!

  31. I have just had 4 monarchs hatch from their cocoons. I still have 2 tohatch Are you inteinterested in them? I don’t want to keep them in the butterfly home long.

  32. I am rooting some milkweed like suggested. On the stems I cut I found 2 cats eating away. I will keep them with the stems as they seem very happy. They are on my shady porch.

  33. Thank you so much for the butterfly referral website. If I’m successful, I’ll fill you in on our Elementary school-wide project.

  34. Thank you for your site and your posts. I have started a movement in our rural town “Zapata, TX” to create a Butterfly & Pollinator Garden. Saving Monarchs is the biggest priority. The efforts have taken this movement to adopt a park with a pond and create the garden there. During all this process, your Site has been the one I mostly visit for information. This project is underway, and volunteer steered. Thanks!

  35. For what it’s worth, I swear I saw synchronized lightning bugs (i.e., “fireflies”) in a ravine very near the house where I lived in Guatemala in 1979. I was not drinking or smoking anything. This was in a small town named Cantel, just outside of Quezaltenango.

    In June 1976 crossing the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Mexico) by train, about 2:00 AM from the rear of the train I saw millions of lightning bugs. It was awesome!

    A friend of mine thinks he is seeing monarch butterflies around here this month. Are they here right now?

  36. Hi Monika,
    I love your blog and fantastic photos of the butterflies! Butterflies are part of what inspires me to make nature jewelry and head pieces. I’d love to be featured on your blog. You can see pictures of our products on the website. Thank you for your time.

    Best Regards,

    Abby Oglesby
    Office Manager, Public Relations
    Mother Earth Beadwork and Boutique LLC

  37. I am an organic horticulturist in Dallas, TX and I grow many species of native Texas plants, including Asclepias. At the moment I have Asclepias viridis and Asclepias curassavica, both are grown 100% organically and ‘yes’, they have aphids……and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have tons of beneficial insects that prey on the aphids and this creates a de faco beneficial insect nursery! Syrphid fly larvae pupate right on the plant, after they have devoured hundreds and cleaned the plant completely. If anyone in my area needs organic, pesticide-free milkweed please contact Randy Johnson Organics on Face Book……

  38. I love your work with Monarch butterflies.

    My Gompho Physocarpa (Swan Plant) is bearing almost a thousand viable seeds. I’m hoping to give them away to other Monarch enthusiasts for the cost of a self-addressed stamped envelope.

    I’m very disappointed that I had only one Monarch visiting my Butterfly Garden up to date.

  39. Hi, planning a Monarch Unit for this fall for my 4 year old twins. Wondering if there are any places that are good for seeing them come through? Don’t mind a bit of a drive– we’re in SA. Can’t find anything advertised, but would think Wildflower Center or parks might have something. Thanks for your help!

  40. SaveOurMonarchs.org is dedicated to donating 100,000 Milkweed Seed Packets in 2014.

    Over 60,000 have already been donated through various institutions, including Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Como Conservatory, Butterfly House, and Garden Clubs of America.

    Additional organizations along the Monarch Migration flyway are needed.

    Ward Johnson

  41. I am a homeschooling mom/nature enthusiast, we have been studying monarchs for 2 years now. It is not easy to do as we live in the mountains of colorado. But we have been able to watch all the stages of the monarchs including the pupa dance. We are participating in the monarch watch tagging program and OE parasite data collecting this year. We are taking a trip to visit my sister in Austin Texas in mid October and I am looking for some insider tips on where are great places to find the monarchs around Austin or San Antonio all the way to Corpus Christi. It would be amazing to see them all roosting in a pecan tree! We are ready to tag and test and our experience and knowledge will be passed on to the younger generation of children who are learning how important our job is as citizen scientists. Please contact me 303-883-7200 Kim

  42. Have been raising monarchs successfully for the past 3 or 4 years. Been a wonderful experience. Have been planting more milkweed year and year. Getting neighbors to do also. This year has been devastating. Had 20 + beautiful pillars and they all cocooned. Then they started dying in cocoons. Did some research, I think they were infested by a parasite. They were mostly raised by hand. My husband built a huge cage where I could rotate plants. These are 4 th generation. They have all died. Can you put me in touch with someone who lives in tomball, Houston area who could help me with this problem. So heartbreaking.

  43. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and have spent 2 summers helping to monitor Monarchs and milkweed plants on the Stonington Peninsula. In 2008 we went to the preserve in Michoacan and that started an interest in the Monarchs. It’s interesting having been on both “ends” of their journey. I read your article on Catalina Trail and was truly captivated by her story. I would like to subscribe to your blog and keep up with the Ranch’s activities. As a transplanted Texan and Hispanic its nice to keep up with the ‘warm’ news from the Hill Country, especially in the winter.

  44. About a year ago we moved into a new subdivision in League City. My daughters and I went for a walk and discovered a fairly large area of Green Milkweed growing in what I now have discovered will be a road. I tried to transplant a few of the plants, but no luck. Now make it clear, I am not advocating digging up native plants for personal use, but these plants will be killed next spring, and I would like to do what I can to save them.

    Can you give my any tips on transplanting them? There is a drainage close by but it gets mowed two or three times a year, so I thought about planting them in a more secluded area.

    My family has been raising tropical milkweed, butterflies and our share of aphids for the last 8 or 9 years. LOL

  45. Monika,
    We need a good source for milkweed plants. Hopefully the Native Milkweeds – not just the Tropical. Please send us any sources you have. Also – do you know anyone who can propogate milkweed? We have two Butterfly areas here at Hardberger Park (Butterfly Garden on the Blanco side) (Butterfly Meadow on the NW Military side). We need As Much Milkweed As We Can Afford!! We look forward to hearing back from you soon!
    Thanks – Gail Gallegos

    • Melissa, is this you:) check my facebook page – I have some milkweed growing wild on my place – no pesticides or fertilizer.

  46. Hello Ms. Maeckle,
    My name is Alison Campion, and I’m a student at Trinity University. Dr. Kelly Lyons pointed me to you as I am looking for people to interview in the San Antonio area about the decline in Monarch butterflies and how we can make a change. Specifically, I’m trying to learn how I can educate people on the opportunities to help through design solutions, in their gardens, in publications, and on the web. I would love to learn about your experience educating people on this subject – the common misconceptions, the most frequent questions, and the practical information about planting a garden that might not be addressed elsewhere. If you would please contact me at your earliest convenience, I’d love to set up a time to meet with you or schedule a phone call. Thank you for all the work that you do to promote the conservation of this beautiful species and the phenomenon of their migration. I hope to hear from you soon.

    Alison Campion

  47. Morning Monika, I have some great bird pictures that you have taken on your travels, sent to me by my son, Leslie.
    Each year, as I am doing now, I check along Goat Creek Road, Kerrville for milkweed and instars. Whenever I find any of the caterpillars, I take them to a “safe” milkweed patch before the mowers and herbicide sprayers get to them.

  48. my 2″ long Caterpillar is dying this morning, it left a long greenish trail inside the container. Poor thing have very little liquid left in the body. The body is now brown with black stripes.
    I currently have 7 total in different stages. I have two of the same size and the other one seem to be doing fine at the moment.
    My container is 12″ sq with some branches and cover with window screen, on my porch with bright indirect sun in La Mesa, CA.
    The reason I start to help them out is because I found almost five dead caterpillar in the past three week, may be due to burning direct sun to my milkweed plant in the area.
    Please let me know how I can help these baby to become butterfly.
    Thank you.

  49. I took a short video of a butterfly. I want to send it to you to see if you can tell me if it is a Zmo arch. I have seen a lot of them over the past two weeks here at my apartment in Fort Worth.

    What is your e-mail address (please)?

    Sean Foley
    Fort Worth TX

  50. What a joy your site is. Like many Internet treasures, I simply stumbled on it while looking to see how the critters have been doing this year. I just subscribed to your post list. Thank you for this deep, rich, expansive resource, and the work you are doing.
    Earlier today I came across a nice article in the Monett MO Times http://www.monett-times.com/story/2240768.html and left my own butterfly story (below). I hadn’t realized until a few years ago that it’s the mid- and mid-south US that has the vast bounty of monarchs, you lucky folks!
    Thanks for this wonderful, scientifically informative article.What a wonderful and clever “Monarch wheel” Ms. Richardson has!
    Years ago in late August I was on Star Island, a 40-acre rock-and-shrub retreat and conference center in the Gulf of Maine, part of the Isles of Shoals, 8 miles off the coast of Portsmouth NH. For 3 days a whirlwind of monarchs came through. They foraged during the day on beach roses [Rosa rugosa] and milkweed, then gathered to roost at dusk. The island is nearly treeless. They covered a few 20′ scrub pine and spruce trees,the underbrush below,and an old, twisted apple tree behind the kitchen,until the trees were absolutely packed and dripping with butterflies clinging to every surface and each other. With wings closed, the grey-buff underwings looked like so many lifeless dried leaves. But when another butterfly flew in to join them, all in the vicinity opened and fluttered their wings, releasing that magnificent orange color into the air like so many rising and falling flames. It was what I think of as a God-moment, when one witnesses something of nature’s creation that is so spectacular, improbable, astounding and overwhelming, you feel as if you are witnessing God at work.
    It’s so heartening to know that people across the Northern hemisphere and people in the roosting areas in Mexico are trying to help this creature be sustained in creation for a while longer yet. Thanks for sharing this good news.
    Meg Le Schack Bedford MA.

  51. I have one Monarch butterfly caterpillar a jar about to make a chrysalis. I have given it a twig to latch in to but it has attached itself to the side of the jar instead. I think it has started because there is a spot on the jar where it is attaching. Is this OK? I don’t want to move it but I don’t want it to fall either. Do I just wait and see what happens? I have one other one already in a chrysalis and it attached to the twig. This one’s a bit of a rebel :/ Any advise will be greatly appreciated 🙂 I am in Southern California if that means anything 😉

    • Make sure the chrysalis hangs free and is not touching the sides of the jar as this can cause deformation. ……if it has already attached then just lay the jar on it’s side, make sure it can’t roll.

      • Awesome! I never thought of that 🙂 It is almost complete so I will turn it as soon as it has finsihed the complete chrysalis. Thank you so much!

  52. Monika, Stumbled upon your blog when I was trying to find out what I had in my front yard. Not a caterpillar enthusiast but love the nature around us. My 3 year old was captivated when he saw this tiny little caterpillar and now we know it is a monarch. We spotted it on a Christmas eve, hopefully it finds enough food on the butterfly bush that it is right now munching on. Is there anything I should do to help it find more food or relocate it? Here is the video of this litter fella

  53. I live in central texas and have been casually butterfly gardening (monarchs mostly and some queens) for 8 years now through two moves. My garden last year saw over 25 cats and was the most I had ever seen. This year, I didn’t see a single cat. Did the weather have something to do with it? I do have predator wasps that have taken them at times but even then a half-dozen to a dozen usually make it but I didn’t even see one this year. Can you give me a possible explanation? I didn’t change anything.

  54. Hello! Last week I found 3 monarch cats on my milkweed. After much debate I decided to bring them in and now 2 of the three are in chrysalis. Although the weather looks fairly warm in the next couple weeks, I would love any advice regarding where I should release them. Any advice to give them the best chance would be appreciated!! Thanks.

  55. Where do you live? I live in Southern CA and I also have 3 large monarch cats. I have been worried about them through the really cold weather (cold for us – low 40’s at night, low 60’s during the day) but now it has warmed up to normal – mid 50’s at night & high 60’s during the day with some sun. I want to leave them for as long as possible since we aren’t expecting any rain for about a week, at least. If they have not chrysalised by then, I will bring them in before the rain. I would love to have an experts opinion on your question also as once these guys are ready, like you I wantto give them the best chance.

  56. Hello. I am writing to get some information. My mother passed away a year ago, and one of her wishes was to have a butterfly release at her gravesite. Is it possible for someone to purchase butterflies for this purpose? Thanks in advance for your help.

  57. To whom it may concern,

    A group of students, faculty members, and I, at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Tx are currently conducting research on how tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, is having a negative impact on Monarch migration patterns. Other research that will soon commence is the latex content of the different species of milkweed native to Texas, the toxicity levels and chemical make-up of each species, and the caloric intake efficiency of each species versus the growth rate of Monarchs. So far I have obtained data on nine different species of milkweed in Texas, along with the tropical species, and their caloric content per gram of each species. I was wondering if ya’ll know anyone who may be conducting research that is parallel to ours, any information would be greatly appreciated. Or any help collecting full plants of the different species of milkweed to grow in our greenhouse for upcoming research. I am currently growing some now, however, I known the species can be difficult to grow.

    Thank you,

    Christian Esquivel

  58. Thanks for your photo essay about the life cycle of the Black Swallowtail. I was trying to identify a chrysalis and the only other one I’d seen that shape had been very dark gray, but this was bright green with gold-green under the belly area, so I wasn’t at all sure it was the same species. I certainly have PLENTY of Black Swallowtail butterflies and have seen hundred of caterpillars (even grew fennel just to encourage them).

  59. Great site Monica! I’m going to be in SA Memorial Day weekend. Do you have a preferred nursery or nurseries that sell native plants for butterfly and pollinator gardens?

    • I like Rainbow Gardens or Fannick’s in San Anonio. For a real bonanza goto Austin go to the Natural Gardener, Barton Springs Nursery or The Great Outdoors.

  60. Hi Monika! I have a question regarding using epsom salts diluted in water to fertilize my milkweek beds. A friend of mine had told me about how they use epsom salts every year, and what phenomenal vegetables and flowers they get. i did go on line and did a little bit of reading about epsom salts fertilizer. Are you familiar with using this? If so do you know if it would be safe in which to water milk weed? I didn’t know if it may be harmful to the caterpillars feeding off of the plants or not. Any feedback would be very helpful. thanks a bunch!

  61. Please help announce – Friday, July 29, 2016 Monarch Butterfly Habitat Community Planning Meeting, 1:30 pm, 1001 Holleman Drive East, College Station, Tx. Register – AMGC4U@gmail.com – e-mail your name, organization, and contact telephone number. Registration open until spaces are filled. Speakers include Craig Wilson – Monarch Peoples Garden and Waystation, Barbara Keller-Willy – Monarch Gateway.

  62. Hello from Yorba Linda CA. Just found about 20 monarch caterpillars on my one milkweed plant. The plant is almost eaten. How can I save the caterpillars? It’s been four hours and only a few are left. Need input…I am a novice at this. Thank you kindly, Libbey

  63. I was wondering if you might have noticed if there was a correlation between when the Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars cocooned and the color of their chrysalis? This is my second ” butterfly farm” and the same thing happened again. 2 very light brown cocoons and 5 bright green and yellow. The 2 brown ones were the last to make and they were by far the biggest of them all. I know they all hatched out at the same time. I was fortunate enough to be outside to watch the egg laying process. Totally cool. Thanks,

  64. Question concerning Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars. I decided to follow one as she left my sweet fennel and went on walkabout. She ended up in a hollow stomp about 6 inches long and the hole being approximately 3/4 of an inch diameter. She has started the transition inside, but there is not near enough room for an adult to stretch her wings as I thought necessary. What am I missing?

  65. My husband and I moved to Goldthwaite a couple of years ago and this summer planted milkweed wherever we could find a spot that would flourish. We have caterpillars now and I found your article on raising inside great. Might not be this year but intend to set aside barn space next year to bring them in and protect. Thank you.

  66. I live in South Austin and would like to find someone to come to my school to do a presentation on Monarch’s — I bring caterpillars in every year from my butterfly garden & will present to the students but would also like to bring in an expert

  67. I live in upstate NY. I have around 50 monarch butterflies and chrysalis. It is too cold to release them. It’s not going to get warm enough to. They were late this year. I already released around 300. What can I do or who can I contact for help.

  68. I am a faculty member of Tarrant County College South Campus. A committee composed of various faculty is interested in identifying individuals who might come to campus to share information on the plight of our local bee and butterfly populations and strategies and activities that our campus can support and engage to bring about improvements. I would greatly appreciate any referrals you might provide to this end.

  69. Hi,
    I am doing a school project on butterflies. I was wondering if you could help me. We have to get their kingdom, phylum, class… ect. But I can’t seem to find their species, could you please send me that? I also need bit of information on their habitat, food chain, and mating? I need this information by this Sunday the 19th to finish my project on time.

    Thank you.

  70. Hi Monika,
    I live in Austin, TX and I would like to raise some monarchs this year. I am wondering if you know a good place to get eggs/caterpillars this time of year in the area?
    Thanks so much,

  71. I think I might have a roost on my place in Texas. Are they rare to find ? And it’s in a Southern Live Oak on the creek. Am I to assume they lay eggs and return year after year?

    Can I email with you possibly,



  72. what are all the tiny little bright yellow eggs look like caviar on my Milkweeds
    I planted them last year and they are really tall about 3-4 ft and on one have two caterpillars one has gone to the underside of leave and looks like itts just crashing there not much activity…I don’t want to disturb them or bring it inside I just do not know what to do next- a real newbie – Also doyou know any monarch places around Dallas . Thank you so much… I just found you today and very excited.

  73. Nice website! I wondered if you could enlighten me.

    I’m working on a book about symbols of the 50 states (Geobop’s State Symbols) and am a little confused by Texas, which has more symbols than any other state (not even counting its myriad state capitals).

    Anyway, Texas has two official insects, the monarch butterfly and honeybee. And it sounds like Jasper was officially designated Texas’ Butterfly Capital, while Mission is home to the Texas Butterfly Festival and wants to be “America’s Butterfly Capital.”

    Then I just learned about the annual Pollinator PowWow.

    Does it sound like I have my facts straight? And are there any other Texas insect symbols I should know about?

    Texas’ insect symbols are really an interesting topic. I poke a lot of fun at Texas (and a lot of other states) for their endless symbols, some of them a little ridiculous. On the other hand, an explosion of “ecosymbols” is a good clue that people care about the environment, and why should just one community have all the glory? After all, the environment belongs to all of us, right?

    Thanks for any tips. You can also contact me @ http://www.kpowbooks.com/contact

  74. Hello Monika,
    I live in Adelaide, South Australia and, like you, have been raising monarchs in my garden and kitchen. I’ve been doing this for 25 years while I was a junior primary teacher. Now I’m retired and still passionate, I still rear the little beauties. I’m travelling to Angangueo February 2018 to see the monarchs. I’m wondering if at the Texas butterfly ranch you might be in need of some volunteer worker like myself for part of Feb./March. I do hope that I hear from you.

    • Thank you for your offer. We are honestly a state of mind at the moment. No physical location that is open to the public. I like to say the TExas Butterfly Ranch is all around you–just look, see and make it happen. Best wishe for a great trip. –MM

  75. Anni again Monika.
    I forgot to ask you where the Texas butterfly Ranch is situated.
    Thankyou in advance.

  76. Hi. I am wondering where to buy butterfly habitats. I would like to have two good ones; or at least one that I could bring inside if needed for cold weather. I made one with screen from Home Depo and a dome frame that I already had. I still had concerns that wasps could get through and it is not portable. I have had up to 32 caterpillars at one time. It was difficult to manage getting milkweed in and out effectively without leaving breaches. Thank you.

  77. Good afternoon: i work for the city of san marcos in an education center. We are producing a sign on the Plight of the Monarch. I would like permission to use your monarch migration map in our sign with the appropriate credits.

    Thank you!

  78. Found numerous caterpillars on my butterfly weed. Identified it as the Tussock moth. Wish the moth was more beautiful, though. We live in East Texas (Lufkin)

  79. Hi there. I hope this is the appropriate place to ask advice. I found some Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my small potted parsley last night and after googling, I figure out what they are and what is going to happen. I purchased a mesh laundry hamper and put it over the plant so they have a fighting chance to survive predators, but I have a few questions if you don’t mind:

    1) there isn’t much parsley on the potted plant for my 8-10 caterpillars, should I get some more in another pot and put it next to the one they are all on?
    2) the parsley isn’t very tall and I don’t know how strong the stems are for them and how far apart from each other they like to be. Should I put sticks or something inside for them?
    3) I live in Raleigh NC and it’s still pretty hot here and will continue to be for a while I would assume (mid-80s I guess) – how long will it take for them to become butterflies? I assume they won’t overwinter this early?

    I’m sorry for the all of the questions, I have never done this before. I want to give them a chance to survive and pollinate! Thank you!

  80. I am in Cedar Rapids IA. We just had a roosting event this last weekend around my property. They are heading your way. Enjoy….

  81. Can you tell me if the Monarchs in Central Texas area will be dlayed in their appearance of between Oct 4-16( according to our latitude) because of the rainy week, we have had.

    Thx so much for having this sight and I appreciate any info. I ‘m new to this.


  82. Hi, I would like to obtain some information. We have five milkweed in a flower bed which grew very tall and have anywhere from two to 13 seed pods. We noticed these red-orange with black spots on the shoulders bugs clustered on the seed pods and a couple leaves. Four pods have opened so far. How are we to handle the pods and WHAT ABOUT THE BUGS? HOWEVER, I need to talk to someone IMMEDIATELY about a monarch larvae that we just found on one of the plants. Isn’t this rather late in the season .. Sep2017 .. for an egg to hatch? Should we cover it with a netting to protect it? Or bring it in? What Should We Do??

  83. I just discovered you and your website and am so excited! I’m a master naturalist in College Station, preparing a presentation about landscaping with native plants. I would like to use some photos from your website. Would you allow that? I will also be including a visit to your website in my presentation. Thanks so much for the work you are doing!

  84. Hello Monika,

    I work for a nature publisher and we are designing a greeting card with the most iconic butterfly species for Texas (monarchs of course are a given as your state butterfly). We’re looking for about 7-8 species with a variety of form, shape, and color. With your 400+ species to chose from I don’t know what will have broad appeal to both general butterfly enthusiasts as well as aficionados of your special treasures. Do you have any recommendations? We will gladly send you a free sample of the card when they come out in 2018.

  85. I have a question about my milkweed. For years I have planted milkweed (from different sources) and it grows good and get very healthy but I have never seen one bloom. I would love to have blooms. Anyway, although it never blooms, I still see baby milkweeds sprouting up all around the area.
    How can it grow babies if there is no seeding taking place? This is not a root system, it is little rooted plants. Also is there any way to encourage blooming?

  86. Please help, I found 10-15 large monarch caterpillars on my frozen back milkweed this week (just before Christmas) how can I help them survive winter or do you know someone who can take them

  87. Hello,

    I just recently started raising butterflies in my back yard in Dallas, Tx when I realized I had a volunteer milkweed growing. This year one monarch came late and laid an egg in the beginning of December. She just hatched yesterday, Jan1st because I brought the chrysalis in as we were expecting a deep freeze for 3 days. She had already made it through one deep freeze of 20 on December 7th. I wasn’t sure if she was alive after that, but all my milkweeds died in that freeze, except one. I took that as a sign that maybe the chrysalis hanging from the fence was still alive. So I brought her in taped the chrysalis to my 1 live milkweed. The milkweed had started to die with the freeze and windchill coming in, so I made the decision to remove chrysalis from fence and dig up the milkweed and bring iside based on my hunch that the chrysalis might still be alive and I didn’t want it to die in the upcoming deep 3 day freeze. I’m glad I did, because low and behold, the next day she hatched!! I’m excited to have my New Year house butterfly but worried about her future. My milkweed is half dead because it partially froze. What can I do to make sure she has a full belly of nectar for her long flight? And is it safe to release her once this cold snap is over?

  88. To Whom it May Concern:
    My name is Cheri Tondre, I am a Gifted and Talented Education Specialist for San Antonio ISD. I provide GT services to four schools and much of my work involves student led projects. My students at Collins Garden Elementary recently won a grant from The Nature Conservancy to transform their 11,000+sq ft courtyard into a Monarch Sanctuary. I am seeking assistance for them to make the most out of this project. They have been studying the Monarch butterfly and pollinators but putting together a whole sanctuary is hard work. I am seeking someone to help them with landscape design, and ideas of what to put in the garden as far as plants, objects, educational resources, etc. I would also like to find experts to help them learn more about the Monarch butterfly and their environmental needs. If you would like to assist my students, please contact me by phone or email. There are 15 students ranging from 1st-4th grades. We are hoping to have a garden build day mid-February and a Monarch festival in March to celebrate the return of the Monarchs from Mexico.

    Thank You,
    Cheri Tondre

  89. Hello. My name is Joshua Prager. I’m a journalist in New York City. (www.joshuaprager.com.) I’m unfortunately not emailing you about butterflies. Rather, I’m writing to you about Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe. I’m writing a book about her and I just found online mention of an article by a Monika Maeckle titled “The Double Life of Norma McCorvey.” I believe it ran in the Dallas Times Herald. I’d love to read it and wondered if you could email me. Of course, I will cite you properly. Thank you!

  90. Hello, Monika! I have a friend in Australia who wants to learn everything about raising monarch butterflies. She has asked me to see what I can find out about any commercial operations in or near Texas that offer hands on training or intern programs. The closest I have found is in Florida. Would you have any suggestions for her? Thank you so much!

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