Sick monarchs as pets

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  • #50686


    Hi all

    As many of you know I have been travelling around the USA for the last month talking to many people in the monarch community.

    I have had very interesting discussions with some people about keeping sick or deformed monarchs as pets. It has always been my preference to euthanase anything that is sick or deformed. One person that I spoke with pointed out another reason why this is the preferable thing to do:

    If you have a monarch (or any creature) that is deformed or sick, you never know if it is just one of life’s quirks or if it has been affected by a disease or diseases. If you keep that animal alive, then if it is diseased you will be transmitting the disease elsewhere.

    Look at it this way: when a hospital has an outbreak of a disease it shuts down the ward and sanitises everything thoroughly to avoid a recurrence of the disease or contagious organism.

    Please bear this in mind when you are considering keeping crippled monarchs as “pets”.

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  • #51606

    rob cooper

    hi jacqui yea thats debateable i had my first deformed wing butterfly 4 days ago,yep i thought better put it down but im a bit of a softy for them,so did a bit of thinking why are its wings deformed,i found it clinging to the very bottom of the stem of the swan plant so bought it inside and had a very close look at its wings looked like dirt on them,i believe it fell from its pupa when it first emerged and therefore its wings didnt form properly,yes if you where sure it was diseased put it down,anway this guy is so well looked after it gets about 5 diff flowers to suck on each day and gets it water and even a fly around i put it on my finger and wizz around the garden and it flaps its wings lol



    Okay, I have considered the chance my little crinkle couple are sick, ill or contain problems that will harm others, but can move them away as the remainders emerge.

    One of them shows a very strong will and fights pethetically with my approaching finger, and for that I am giving him a lot of credit in the scale of “keeping” or “crushing”…

    So, what is best practice for keeping these poor little fellows with wings that are never going to straighten as pets?



    I have euthanised many sick butterflies (and caterpillars when overpopulated) but last week I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Found a beautiful female butterfly on the back lawn with what looked to be wings that just didn’t dry properly – no sign of OE crumpling.
    I went to go put her in the fridge (in prep for the freezer) and the darn thing looked up at me. I put her in the front garden and gave her some sugar water to let her enjoy the sun on her wings… The next few days were beautiful sunny winter days so I let her stay out there – each time I walked past that part of the garden she’d come flapping up to me and was such a joy.
    Over the weekend it was stormy and really cold so I her up into the euthanasia container ready to put her in the fridge. She looked up again at me and I burst into tears – couldn’t do it! I kept her in the container and thought the cold snap would mean nature would do the job for me. It didn’t! She’s been back out in the front garden for the last two days enjoying the sun again, full of energy and sticking her face into flowers I give her.
    I’m guessing she’d be about 2-3 weeks old now so not bad for a winter butterfly. She may be sick, but she’s not climbing up on any plants, so her chances of spreading infection I’m hoping are low. Hard to know – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do the hard thing this time around.



    Remember too towards the end of the summer – especially when it is humid – diseases and other pathogens have had a great season to build up their numbers. They get knocked on the head over the winter. But this will also affect the numbers of monarchs and other butterflies that emerge successfully.



    I have had experienced this year, April and May that the chrysalises produced “crumpled butterflies” about 5 chrysalides. I think it was from a plant that was sprayed. They do not dry properly and emerged with crumpled wings. I opted to euthanize them.

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