I read that a monarch egg has only a 1 in 10 chance of making it to the butterfly stage. Even though the monarch caterpillar is toxic and bad tasting to almost all birds, the eggs are eaten by ants,mites,spiders and wasps. In my area it seems a tachinid fly is the biggest problem . The fly lays it's eggs on the tiny monarch caterpillar. It grows inside along with the caterpillar, feeding off of it, and when it's ready to leave it kills the monarch. Unfortunately I have seen this in my hatchery, it often happens when the caterpillar is hanging in it's J form getting ready to change. It's important if you have this happen that you find and remove the fly larvae from your hatchery. I have newspaper in the bottom, and it is always under the paper.
|Fly larvae that exited monarch caterpillar. See the telltale slime trail? If it had been still hanging there would have been a string dangling from the cat . I call it the dreaded death string.|
|White is the fresh larvae still crawling around, the red is the pupae waiting to hatch into a new bad fly.|
I won't go into all the details here, if you google Monarch Butterfly you can learn all kinds of interesting facts about the life of a Monarch. Here are a couple sites, but there are many more:
I'll show you a few pics of my hatchery and all the pretty green with gold chrysalis .
|Green chrysalis "growing" butterfies!|
|Hanging in the J form, getting ready to form the chrysalis. It's pretty gross and amazing at the same time.|
|These guys eat like pigs! And poop like them too! (see below)|