By Emma Pelton on 11. September 2018

Instead of rearing—which is risky and unproven in helping monarchs—we should focus on more effective ways to conserve these glorious wild animals.

Many of us have been there: Finding a monarch caterpillar, collecting it in a jar, raising it on milkweed, and then waiting patiently for a butterfly to emerge and take flight. Helping a child (or an adult) learn about this captivating, up-close example of metamorphosis can be incredibly rewarding. Unlike many wild animals, monarchs are easily reared, so it is no wonder that bringing caterpillars into the classroom or home has been used by teachers and parents for decades as an educational tool—or just for the pure enjoyment of it. Rearing monarchs also has been a part of monarch research: From the tagging efforts started by the Urquharts in the 1960s to the multiple tagging programs of today. These programs, as well as other community science projects, have greatly expanded our understanding of migration paths.

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