(Dover, NH) - By the end of the month, we will have raised and released 15 of the Eastern Monarchs.

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The Monarch is not yet listed as endangered, but the numbers of butterflies that migrate from the Eastern U.S. to California and Mexico each fall has dropped dramatically. Its survival may be threatened by natural disasters in Mexico and the fact that there is less milkweed here in the Northeast.

Last year we were given a monarch caterpillar and were fascinated as we watched it go through its development stages and emerge as a butterfly.

Don Briand photo

This year, we invested heavily ($20 for wire cups, some small needlepoint hoops and a yard or so of mesh) and started collecting the caterpillars from the milkweed plants where they are born.

Don Briand photo

This guy was still in his egg when I brought him home and he emerged this week. They start out small....this photo was taken through a magnifying glass.

Don Briand photo

The little guys are voracious eaters, going through milkweed leaves and growing very quickly into full-sized caterpillars, then crawling upward and attaching themselves to the top of their enclosure before transforming into the chrysalis.

Don Briand
Don Briand photo

We released three adult butterflies over the Labor Day weekend.

As of today, we have 8 in chrysalis form that, within the next 10 days, should emerge as butterflies. Four other caterpillars are in various stages of growth.

I may need more cups....and a bigger sideboard.....next year.