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Home > Client Information > Monarch Watch Call Center FAQ's
Monarch Watch Call Center FAQ's
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Where can I find milkweed locally?

We cannot tell you exactly where to look for milkweed in your area. However, you should check with local nurseries – ask for plants in the Asclepias (ah-slee-pee-ahs) family. Your local county extension agent should be able to tell you which types of wild milkweed are found in your area and where they are likely to grow. If you live at or above 37° degrees latitude, you should be able to find Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) along disturbed sites like roadsides, vacant lots, and fields. Photos and other information about milkweed is available online at



How long can I keep the butterflies before I have to release them?

Monarchs do not feed for at least 24 hours after emergence. If you are keeping them for more than a day or two after emergence, they can be fed a sugar- or honey-water solution. Mix 1 part sugar or honey with 9 parts water and pour into a shallow dish. A plastic pot scrubber should be placed in the dish to aid in feeding. The food needs to be changed every day to keep it fresh. As an alternative, you can buy a dry mix from Monarch Watch. This artificial nectar will not ferment; therefore, you only need to top it off every 2-3 days. If you have a large cage, the butterflies can learn to self-feed; the feeding solution should be placed near the top of the cage and relatively close to the light source. Like most insects, monarchs will fly toward lighted windows or artificial lights. The butterflies should feed when their feet touch the nectar; if they are hungry the proboscis will extend and they will feed. If they seem unable to locate the nectar sourc on their own, you can gently pick them up with their wings closed and place them on the pot scrubber.



How long does it take once I get larvae for them to turn into butterflies?

If kept at room temperature, your larvae will feed for 10-14 days. They will emerge from the chrysalis in another 10-14 days and will be ready for release 24 hours after emergence. The process is shorter in warmer temperatures and longer in cooler temperatures.



Can I receive my kit on a specific day?

No. We cannot guarantee that your caterpillars will arrive on a specific day because our ability to ship kits is dependent on daily egg production, which is not predictable. However, we do our very best to get them to you during the week you request. All kits are shipped overnight via UPS and arrive Tuesday through Friday. It is very important that you include your phone number and/or email address when ordering; we will need this to contact you if your kit will be delayed. If you will not be at your delivery address every day during that week, do not choose that week for delivery. We cannot be responsible for kits that are delivered and left unattended.



Will my butterflies make it to Mexico?

Perhaps. The short answer is that receiving and rearing caterpillars from Kansas and releasing them in your area will not hinder their migration.

Whether or not the butterflies you raise will migrate depends on a few factors. They must be released during the appropriate time. Not all monarchs migrate and the determining factor is when (in the year) they emerge from their chrysalis. The migration begins in Canada and the northeastern US in mid-August. Monarchs in the middle states begin the migration around mid-September and the southern states do not see the migration until October. You can determine the peak migration dates for your area by visiting this link: Some of the monarchs that emerge during the first migration dates for an area will migrate and some will not. The same is true for the monarchs that emerge at the end of the time period. It may be that the migration “signal” is not a strong at the beginning and end of the migration and not all of the monarchs pick it up. However, if you release your monarchs during the migration period then there is a good chance they will indeed head south. It seems that it does not matter if the monarchs were raised indoors. They will stay in the area for a few days before they react to the migration cues and head south. Also, it does not matter if you raise caterpillars from Kansas and release them in other states. All of the monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains belong to the same population and go to the same overwintering areas, where they intermix. The monarchs from one particular state do not go to just one colony to spend the winter together. The result is that the breeding that takes place in the spring occurs between monarchs from many states. Again, after you release the butterflies they will stay in the area and feed before the local cues send them on their way.



Why can't you ship larvae to me? West of the Rockies & Canada

I’m west of the Rockies (or in Canada) – where can I order larvae?

West of Rockies: There are two groups of monarchs in the United States. The group of monarchs that breed in states east of the Rocky Mountains in summer, and migrate to central Mexico annually in the fall is the Eastern Population. The other group of monarchs in the United States (cleverly dubbed the Western population) breed west of the Rocky Mountains and migrate to southern California annually. The consensus among Monarch biologists (although the topic is still debates in certain circles) is that the two populations may be genetically distinct. That is, they aren't known to interbreed. What all of the east and west business means is that, due to federal regulations, we are not able to ship larvae west of the Rocky Mountains. For information about ordering caterpillars in the western U.S., please contact the following company. Please note: Monarch Watch is not associated with this company and cannot make any guarantees about your experience. You may also be able to find additional companies using an online search engine, but you should be sure the company will be shipping your caterpillars from a location west of the Rocky Mountains.


Butterfly Sky

16934 Hofacker Lane

Lower Lake, CA 95457

(888) 700-5030



In Canada: Although the eastern population extends to Canada, the high cost of shipping and the large amount of paperwork involved, prevents the shipment of caterpillars Canada. If you are interested in having caterpillars shipped to Canada, please contact:

Dave Clermont                                                         Ken McGrath

424, St-Denis                                                            500 Duplex Avenue, Suite #1803

Granby, QC                                                               Toronto, ON

Canada                                                                      Canada

J2G 3M5                                                                    M4R 1V6

(450) 776-7442                                                         (416) 322-6891, fax 416-322-9946                        




René Boutin                                                             Wayne Bulman

33, St-Georges                                                         867 Sandy Hook Road

Chambly, QC                                                            PontypoolON

Canada                                                                      Canada

J3L 3J8                                                                      L0A 1K0

(450) 658-5252                                                         800-707-8924, 705-277-2216                                  



Who do I contact to plan a trip to Mexico?

*This information is available via email and is posted on the website.*


Anyone can visit the monarch overwintering sites near Angangueo, Michoacán Mexico. Transportation from Mexico City to Angangueo (approximately 80 miles) is available. Many prefer to rent a car in Mexico City and spend the night in Angangueo to get an early morning start. From Angangueo, a local bus can be taken to the monarch colonies at El Rosario or Sierra Chincua. Another possibility is to take a tour.


The following organizations have led tours in the past and may do so again. Monarch Watch does not endorse any of these organizations; the information was simply collected for your convenience. More tours can be found using Google ( and entering words like monarch, butterfly, tours, Mexico in the search box. Tour dates and designs do vary.


Latino Travels Mexico --


Monarchs & a Buddhist Retreat --


Natural Habitat Adventures (click the “tropics” link) --


Riding --


Rocamar Tours --


Rockport Tours --


S&S Tours --


Teocalli Tours --



If you decide to go on your own, there are two hotels in Angangueo that we recommend. The first is the Hotel Don Bruno. This hotel has a beautiful garden in the center as you enter. To conact the Don Bruno, call 011-52-715-600-26 (also a fax number) and ask for Sheela or Engracea. The second hotel in Angangueo is the hotel Margarita. You can contact them by calling 011-52-715-601-49 and asking for Simon. If you would like to stay in a beautiful resort and don't mind a forty-minute drive to Angangueo, we recommend staying in the San Cayetano. This hotel is run by Pablo and Lisette Span. Their property

is in a beautiful secluded area in Zitácuaro. You can contact Pablo or Lisette at 011-52-715-3-19-26.


Be aware that the overwintering sites do not open to the public until November 18th and close around March 15th. Once you arrive at the sanctuary, expect to pay an entrance fee of about 15 pesos (about $1.50 U.S.), to hike up a long

mountain trail. At elevations above 10,000 feet, you might find yourself making frequent stops to catch your breath! At Sierra Chincua, horses are available to ride up the mountain slopes, which makes it more accessible for those who are unable to make the hike. The trip is well worth the effort. The monarchs roosting in the mountains and flying overhead will take your breath away.


Here are some traveling hints to help you prepare for the trip:


* Wear layers of clothing. The temperature in the early morning hours can dip into the 30s and daylight temperatures can reach into the 60s. Solar radiation is intense, so remember to pack sunscreen and a hat to use during the day. Mexican hotels are not heated, so you should consider bringing a warm set of pajamas as well.


* Bring comfortable hiking shoes. The hike to the overwintering sites can be long and steep. Also, you must be able to comfortably walk several miles to see the butterflies.


* The road to the overwintering sites can be dusty and the transportation is usually open air, so you may want to bring along a handkerchief or dusk mask.


* Pack the appropriate film for low light conditions because the monarchs will be under the forest canopy. Photographing them can be quite difficult and you will be asked not to use a flash, so be prepared.


* If you have a heart condition or a medical problem that interferes with your breathing (like asthma), make sure that you talk to your doctor before making the trip. You will be at elevations of 10,000 feet or more and breathing becomes difficult when you are not used to the lower level of oxygen at these heights. Again, you will need to be able to walk several miles comfortably.


* Vaccinations are not required to enter Mexico but The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends immunizations against yellow fever and hepatitis. Contact the CDC for current health information, especially if you will be visiting other areas of Mexico.


* Traveler’s diarrhea is a very real possibility, but it can be prevented. Bottled water is available throughout the country. With food you should boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it. Avoid all undercooked meat and mayonnaise or creamed mixtures. Kaopectate or Immodium can help relieve symptoms and you can also talk to your doctor for other recommendations.


* The exchange rate is around 10 Mexican pesos to 1 American dollar. You will find the best rates at the Casas de Cambio in the airport and scattered throughout Mexico City and Zitácuaro. You will not be able to exchange your money at the overwintering sites.



How long do monarch butterflies live?

The reproductive generations live 2-6 weeks, depending on temperature and food availability. The migratory monarchs live 6-9 months.



When will I receive my rearing kit?

We do our very best to get your rearing kit to you during the week you selected. However, we cannot guarantee a particular day of the week, so you must make arrangements to have someone be available to receive the package and care for the caterpillars during the week you select. All rearing kits are shipped overnight via UPS and arrive Tuesday through Friday. Kit orders are shipped according to order date, so the oldest orders ship first. Currently, we can only tell you whether or not your kit has shipped and we cannot tell you when it will ship, although we are working on implementing a tracking system that would use email addresses. It is important that you provide a phone number and/or email address so that we are able to contact you in case of delays.



Where does the money for the tagging kits go?

All of the profits from sales support Monarch Watch. Although we are housed at the University of Kansas, the University does not provide funding. Also, we do not currently have any grant support, so the program is entirely supported through sales and donations. The fees charged for the tagging kits partially cover the cost of running the tagging program, including materials, shipping, salaries, etc.



When will I receive my tag kit?

All tag kit orders received by July 25th will be shipped during the first week of August. After that, kit orders are shipped out as they come in. All U.S. orders are sent via regular U.S. mail and Canadian orders pay extra to have kits shipped via standard UPS. If you order by July 25th, your kit should arrive by mid-August. If you order after July 25th, please allow 10 business days for delivery.

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