Partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration

Question and Answer

What are the benefits and problems with raising and releasing monarchs?

Raising monarchs can be a wonderful educational tool and is a great way to inspire students to care about conservation. However, from a habitat conservation perspective, raising monarchs for release to bolster the population may have some disadvantages. Monarchs typically do not live in high densities in the wild, so they are prone to disease and infections when raised in captivity in large quantities. If breeding/migrating habitat is not increased simultaneously, raising and releasing monarchs may have minimal impact on the population if there isn't enough suitable habitat to support increased monarch numbers (due to raising). Lastly, research has show that some insects adapt to captive rearing conditions in as little as a few generations and thus, may be less apt to survive in wild conditions. For these reasons, we do not recommend captive rearing as a means to supplement wild monarch populations. Capturing monarchs from the wild, raising and releasing them locally, as well as keeping numbers low and conditions clean are effective recommendations for raising monarchs for educational purposes. See our flyer on Rearing Monarchs Responsibly for more detailed information.

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