Monarchs usually pair naturally quite easily as long as you have the light and temperature right. However sometimes conditions are not good at the start of the season, or in periods of unseasonable bad/cold weather. Hand pairing allows you to be sure of the female being paired, and also allows you to be selective good for ensuring new genes in your stock!
NOTE WELL: Make sure the Males are at least three days old before you start, the females can be fresh.
THE PHOTOS are numbered 1 to 9.
1. This photo shows Monarchs waiting to be fed. I have made up some holders using clothes pins…see photo 2 for how to snap them together.
2. Hand feeding…feed them before you hand pair to give the butterflies energy. I use the pegs to hold them in place and unroll the tongue with a pin.
3. Close up of Monarch feeding
4. I just use my hands…but if you are not sure of the exact position you can do a lot of wing damage by trying too hard…put them on a clothes pin and adjust the pin so the body does not keep retreating back into the hindwing folds.
5. Place the two end together, note that the exact position for the males claspers is slightly behind the females abdomen tip.
6. Try a slow circulating and back and forth movement and the male will open it’s claspers and find the right position to grip. Next gently pull and push and you will see when the male has gripped the female as you pull them a fraction away from each other.
7. & 8. Once gripped release the pegs….female first… they won’t pull apart easily…but do take care and then gently put them somewhere quiet to complete their pairing.
9. Safe In a quiet place out of the sunshine…they can stay together for many hours, depending on temperature.
This picture shows how you can hybridize by hand pairing.