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Date: Tue, 2 Sep 1997 23:47:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: My son is 10yrs old he knows more about butterflies than most adults

I would like to find out about the monarch pupa and how i would go about
getting some for my son to raise and release here in northern california
could you email me at ______________ with any information. thank you
very much for now.

Hi, Well I know of a couple of things you could try. I don't know of anyone who mails Monarch caterpillars to residents of California. Monarchs in the Classroom, based out of the University of Minnesota is who I've gone through to get ours. Dr. Karen Oberhauser runs Monarchs in the Classroom and she has been very careful not to ship the caterpillars outside of the region where they were collected. Monarch Watch with the University of Kansas might by able to give you the name of someone who ships the larvae to people in California. ( A very fun option is to go out in the field with your son and collect them. I did this for the first time this year. I have even taken large groups of kids out looking for them with good success. I highly recommend it! The kids noticed that if we found milkweed near wildflowers (especially purple and yellow ones) we always found monarch caterpillars. When you find the milkweed carefully turn the leaves over and look for tiny white dots (eggs) or the caterpillars. Caterpillars give a little clue about where they are - little chewed marks in the leaves. The smallest larvae are harder to spot (they can be as small as (,) a comma. Now is a good time of year to look for them. Another good clue is seeing monarchs flying around in the area. If they're flying and feeding - they're probably laying eggs. When you find your caterpillar and or eggs, cut the plant so that you're taking five or six leaves home with you. We took the plant and immediately put it into a bottle of water that we brought along with us. Back at home, you can leave the milkweed plant out on a counter and watch it change up close. The kids I worked with joked about it being a living floral arrangement. Some people like to but netting or somehow enclose the plant, but we found that wasn't necessary. As long as we supplied them with fresh milkweed, they were happy. A few days later the caterpillar will change into its pupa stage. And about a week or so later a butterfly will emerge. We've never been able to spot a pupa in the field. They blend in with the plants so well. I've read that sometimes the larvae leave the host plant and form their pupa on other stronger plants. This happened on my kitchen counter. I had the milkweed close to an African violet (a few leaves were touching) and when I came home I saw the caterpillar hanging in the "j-stage" from the violet. Thanks for writing. Good Luck, and I hope you are able to find some. If so, send pictures and tell me how it went. I'll add them to the web site. -karen