Butterfly Release Instructions

Our experience and careful breeding ensure that your monarch butterflies will be large, healthy and beautiful, and that they will arrive on time for your event. Big Tree Butterflies is committed to customer service and will be available if you need assistance.

Before we pack them for their journey to you, each monarch butterfly is fed and checked to assure that you have a perfect monarch butterfly release.

Our glassine release envelopes are designed for each monarch butterfly’s comfort and do not harm them while they are traveling to you. Your monarch butterflies are shipped in a strong insulated outer box with cold packs to keep them calm and cool while they travel. They will be shipped overnight to arrive on the day before your wedding day or event.

Some Rules for All Monarch Butterfly Releases

Monarch butterflies should be released outside during daylight hours, on a sunny or overcast (not rainy!) day with the temperature above 60 degrees F. Ideally, you should plan to let them fly free no later than two hours before sunset. This will allow enough time for them to nectar (eat) and to find a safe hiding place for the night. If it is raining, do not release your monarch butterflies until the rain stops (a light mist is alright).

Hold your monarch butterfly release in an area protected from the wind, or they will quickly disappear! A sunny, warm, flower-filled area or garden is best. The monarch live butterflies first flight is usually very short, and they will instinctively fly toward the brightest object – the bride or people wearing bright colors – or towards flowers and bouquets.

When Your Monarch Butterflies Arrive

Simply keep them in a safe place away from heat and direct sunlight until you are ready for them. Care and release instructions are also supplied with each order. First, open the outer box and locate the cold packs. Next, place one cold pack in the freezer to refreeze it before returning it to its original location in the box. While the cold pack is refreezing, put a plastic bag filled with ice (or even a bag of frozen vegetables!) wrapped in a towel into the outer box, replacing all original packing material. Continue to keep the box in a cool room at or below 74 degrees F and continue to alternate and refreeze the cold packs, as necessary.

Before Your Monarch Butterfly Release

When you are planning your event, just as you choose a personal assistant, bridesmaid and flower girl, choose a Butterfly Wrangler. This person will handle the monarch butterflies, as needed, and it will be one less worry for you.

About 2 hours before your release time, remove the glassine envelopes from the box and display them in a basket to distribute to your guests. Or, if you are using a Mass Release Cube, transfer your monarch butterflies into the Cube (See When Should You Transfer Your Monarch Butterflies? below). Warm up your monarch butterflies gradually; do not go from the cold box directly into the hot sun. As they warm up, your butterflies will start to move around a little; this is absolutely normal. Hold each glassine envelope up to the light and look for movement. Once you see a leg or antenna move, return that envelope to the basket and go on to the next one. Be sure to store your butterflies in the shade until you are ready to release them.

When Should You Transfer Your Monarch Butterflies?

We recommend transferring your monarch butterflies into the Mass Release Cube an hour or two before your event begins, to prevent wing damage. Keeping the Cube in a cool, low light condition will help keep your monarch butterflies calm. When placing the Cube outdoors, it is best to not have it in strong direct sunlight because the monarch butterflies will become very active. Dappled sunshine is the best, or even shade. Try to release them in a sunny area so that they will be encouraged to fly.

How Do You Do The Transfer?

  1. With the monarch butterflies still in the glassine envelopes, place the inside shipping box into the refrigerator (not the freezer) for 30 – 45 minutes just before you are ready to transfer them.
  2. Ensure that your hands are clean and dry, so that if you need to handle one of the monarch butterflies, the oils from your skin will not affect the conditions of the wings.
  3. Remove the inside shipping box from the refrigerator. Take the monarch butterflies, still in the glassine envelopes, along with the Mass Release Cube, into a small room with a low ceiling (such as a bathroom). Shut the door and windows while you are making the transfer.
  4. Working steadily, pick up each glassine envelope, hold it just inside the Cube, open the envelope and let the monarch butterfly slide out onto the bottom of the Cube. As they warm up, the monarch butterflies will start fluttering their wings and flopping about. This is normal. Keep working until all of the monarch butterflies are transferred, then quickly close the Cube lid.

You should be able to transfer all of the monarch butterflies into the Mass Release Cube with no escapees. Should one escape during the transfer process, you will need to recapture it. It’s OK. You can do this! Despite what you may have been told, handling a monarch butterfly gently will not harm it. Monarch butterflies are attracted to light, so the escapee will fly toward a window or other light source in the room. Gently pick it up with the wings closed, holding the wings between your first two fingers, keeping your fingers close to the monarch butterfly’s body. Alternatively, cup your hands around the escapee and transfer it into the Cube.

It’s Finally Time for Your Monarch Butterfly Release!

Individual Release

The glassine envelopes are easily opened, and if the monarch butterflies are warm enough, they will take flight. If they are still a little cool, they may take a little while to begin flying.

Accordion Release

Open the box lid, Pull the end of the ribbon out and away from the box, and all of the monarch butterflies will fly at once.

Mass Release

Open the lid of the Mass Release Cube. If the monarch butterflies are warm enough, they will take flight. If they are still a little cool, they may take a little while to begin flying.

If you have any questions please contact us today, we are located near San Antonio Texas.