University of Minnesota

Captive Breeding and Releasing Monarchs

A. syriaca and A. tuberosa in prairie (Photo: Wendy Caldwell)

A group of ten monarch researchers and conservationists from across the U.S. have issued a statement highlighting concerns with the release of mass-reared monarch butterflies and recommended against the practice.

This is a summary of the full statement: Following news of the dramatic decline in monarch numbers, some people are rearing large numbers of monarchs in backyard operations or obtaining them from commercial breeders or other organizations and releasing them with the goal of supplementing local populations. Rearing monarchs can offer excellent educational opportunities and encourage connections with nature, but releasing commercially-produced or otherwise mass-reared monarchs could actually harm the already dwindling monarch population. Release of mass-reared monarchs has led to concerns about disease transmission, deleterious genetic effects, and negative impacts on monarch scientific research. For these reasons, summarized in the full statement below, the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab advises against the practice of mass-rearing monarchs and does not recommend the purchase of captive bred butterflies for release into the wild.  

Individuals who choose to rear small numbers of monarchs for educational or personal reasons and want to ensure future generations are able to experience the joy that accompanies witnessing such a stunning natural phenomenon can join the army of citizen scientists working towards the conservation of the monarch butterfly. See our blog post on Collecting Data on Reared Monarchs for Citizen Science to learn about how you can rear monarchs and still contribute to important scientific research, and make sure to read the full statement below. 

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