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Pupation of Caterpillars into Chrysalises

Egg
Instructions
Caterpillar
Instructions
Adult
Instruction
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PUPATING INTO A CHRYSALIS

After your caterpillars have eaten you out of house and home, they will wander for a while before starting to spin a silk pad for pupation. They will again lock their rear legs into the silk mat. Swallowtails and a few other species will also make a silk sling and hang in a 'C'. Monarchs, Painted Ladies, and others will hang in a 'J' shape. After a day, they will start to wiggle or move like an accordion. Their skin will again split behind their heads and they will wiggle for about three minutes. During this time, their skin will work toward thier back legs. When the skin is almost totally off, a pupating caterpillar will extend its cremaster around the skin and attach it to the silk pad. Since it is wiggling out of its old skin, it needs a new grip on the silk pad. After the cremaster is firmly attached, in most cases the old skin will fall off after more twisting and wiggling.

Learn how to tell when your caterpillar is about to pupate.

Photographs of pupation are below.

DO NOT touch the new chrysalis. The skin is so soft that a touch can cause it to rupture. After 24 hours, the chrysalis will harden enough to touch.

At this point, if you prefer, you can move the chrysalis to a different place for the butterfly to emerge. Spritz some water on the silk pad and use a small hook or pin to pull at the silk. DO NOT pull at the silk girdle on those species which pupate with the girdle. The girdle is strong enough to cut the chrysalis before breaking. Whereever you choose to reattach your chrysalis, be sure there is sufficient room below it for the butterfly to fully expand its wings. If its wings touch the bottom of a container, the wings will be crumpled or bent. If your chrysalis removes easily with silk intact, you can use a straight pin to attach it to a leaf or other object. If the silk did not remove with your chrysalis, you can use a hot glue gun to reattach it. BE CAREFUL, the glue can burn it. Allow the glue to cool enough to be comfortable to touch yet still tacky. Simply slip the same end of the chrysalis where it had attached itself into the glue. If your chrysalis is not near a living plant, be sure to spritz it with water once or twice a day. Again, heaters and air conditioning will dry out the air which also dehydrates the chrysalis, causing its death.

The day before your butterfly emerges, you can usually see the wings of the butterfly through the chrysalis skin. Never place the chrysalis in a window or direct sun. Strong sunlight can burn it. Protect your chrysalis from animals and insects. Roaches, spiders, ants, mice, squirels, and more will see a banquet when they find a chrysalis.Cats think an emerging butterfly is a fun toy.

Sleepy Orange
A Sleepy Orange caterpillar
hangs in a 'C' before molting.
Available as photograph
Giant Swallowtail
A Giant Swallowtail caterpillar
hangs in a 'C' before molting.
Available as photograph
Buckeye
A Buckeye caterpillar hangs in a 'J' before pupating.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A Monarch caterpillar hangs in a 'J' before pupating.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A Monarch caterpillar hangs almost straight just before pupating.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A Monarch caterpillar begins to pupate.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A Monarch caterpillar pupating.
Notice how the skin is working up toward the caterpillars feet.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A fresh Monarch chrysalis.
Notice how the vague shape of a caterpillars segments are noticable.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A fresh Monarch chrysalis.
Notice how the shape of the chrysalis is starting to change closer to the classic Monarch chrysalis shape.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A closer look at a Monarch cremaster.
The black cremaster is attached to the pad of silk the caterpillar had laid down before pupating.
Available as photograph
Monarch
A Monarch chrysalis.
Available as photograph
Buckeye
Two Buckeye chrysalises
The difference in size is entirely due to the fact that the chrysalis on the left ate less while it was a caterpillar.
Adult butterflies never grow.
Available as photograph
Monarch
The skin and head capsule of a pupated Monarch lies among frass in the bottom of a rearing container.
Available as photograph
Monarch
The day before a Monarch butterfly emerges
the chrysalis becomes clear and the Monarch can be seen through the chrysalis shell.
Available as photograph