Monarch culture problems

Jonathan M. Timko jon.timko at
Sat May 3 11:00:29 EDT 1997

(My apologies if this message is listed more than once in this 
group. I'm not sure if it was ever sent.)

I'm having some problems with my monarch culture which I have 
not experienced before. Perhaps the listserve can help if I 
describe the symptoms.

For the most part, my culture appears to be vigorous and healthy. 
My larvae and chrysalides have all developed normally with no 
signs of disease. I have been mating the adult monarchs by hand 
pairing. Mating appears to be normal and the females are quite 
healthy looking and active after detaching from the male. After 
about 12 hours rest I am introducing the female to a milkweed 
plant. This is where the problem begins to show up. The females 
often begin depositing their eggs or at least attempt to. From 
about 8 to 12 hours after introduction to the plant the females 
become lethargic and extend their abdomens up and away (opposite 
of oviposition). The extension can be quite extreme curling their 
bodies into an "S" shape. At this point they are moribund and 
often flip onto their backs and hyperextend their wings downward. 
The eggs that have been laid have been (to this point in time) 

Some additional info: I have been hand feeding them to insure 
they are not dehydrating. I have occasionally but not often seen 
some females excrete a small amount of rusty-milky substance from 
their abdomen when attempting to lay eggs. The milkweed plants I 
am using were raised in a greenhouse for the first 6 weeks then 
outside on my back porch for the last 4 weeks. They are infested 
with aphids although I physically brush off most of them prior to 
using them as an oviposition substrate. 

It may be just a coincidence but the state sprayed my neighborhood for 
mosquitoes a couple of weeks ago (I'm not sure what they sprayed). Who
knows what else is being sprayed. There is also alot of lawn care going on
in the neighborhood and I'm wondering if these companies are applying the
correct chemicals at the correct rates. Tracking down all the information
would be a tedious process but it may be worth the effort on my part if
beneficials are being effected. 
I would appreciate any help any of you can offer. I have had many 
successful broods up until now and it's very frustrating. Thanks.

Jon Timko

More information about the Leps-l mailing list