Hatching Butterflies…a Monarch Emerges from its Chrysalis!
Monarch Metamorphosis: The Final Chapter
10-14 days after your monarch forms a chrysalis it will become transparent, revealing the magnificent butterfly inside. Once it’s completely transparent, you know it will emerge that day. The most common question I get at this point is: How can I tell when the butterfly is about to come out?
The answer? Go to the bathroom for 5 minutes, and come back to a newly emerged butterfly. ? That’s the way it seems to go for many…
However, there is a way to indicate that you should hold off on that quick trip to the loo…
Look at the top of the chrysalis where the butterfly abdomen is located. When the chrysalis pleats start to expand and separate like an old slinky, the butterfly is about to eclose (emerge) from the chrysalis…or at least within the hour.
Did You Know? If you raise monarchs in cool temperatures or in a dark room, they’ll often hatch later in the day…and days later!
Seconds after the butterfly emerges it will look nothing like the majestic monarchs you’ve seen fluttering through your garden. Its wings will be small and crumpled, and its abdomen will be plump and filled with fluids:
At this time, the butterfly also uses mouthparts called labial palps to fuse together the proboscis (straw-like appendage used to take in nectar) from two thin pieces into one super straw. The butterfly will unroll its proboscis and pat it together between the two palps…
Over the course of the next minutes, hemolymph from the abdomen will be pumped through the wings, until your butterfly starts looking more monarchesque…
About half an hour after a monarch ecloses, it will expel a reddish fluid (through its anal opening) called meconium. This is metabolic waste built up while inside the chrysalis and is completely normal.
Although meconium release is a normal part of monarch metamorphosis, these other occurrences are not…
Newly emerged butterflies must be able to hang down so their wings can expand and dry properly. If they don’t have room to do this, wrinkled and deformed wings will keep them grounded for life. ?
If a butterfly falls from its chrysalis and is not immediately placed back up to hang down, its wings will be deformed and it will never fly.
If a butterfly is permanently unable to fly (but healthy otherwise) it can be kept as a pet, left outside to support the ecosystem, or euthanized.
Euthanize by placing the butterfly inside a paper towel and squeezing or place the butterfly inside a plastic baggie and put in your freezer for 48 hours.
If you choose to keep a flightless butterfly, check out this info on feeding adult butterflies.
If a butterfly falls from its chrysalis and is too weak to hang on after being placed back up, it is probably heavily infected with OE parasites and should be euthanized to avoid spreading parasites to future generations of monarchs.
If a butterfly is unable to emerge from its chrysalis, OE is again the likely issue. If a chrysalis is transparent for more than 48 hours, the butterfly is either deceased or very sick. You can euthanize using the same methods listed above.
Please read through the comments below for more info about hatching butterflies emerging from chrysalides. For further assistance raising healthy butterflies, a ✬✬✬✬✬ rated PDF download on How To Raise More Monarchs, with Less Effort is available for purchase HERE
Hi Tony. I need a little help. Yesterday afternoon I noticed our monarch butterfly had hatched. Her wings were spread and even and she was moving them perfectly. When I tried to release her I accidentally dropped the lid where she was hanging from and she fell on the floor and walked. We placed her on a plant in our yard and she was able to grab on tightly. Nothing seems off. But she hasn’t flown anywhere. She moves her wings. But sits still. Our temperature here is well below 70F (our high now is 53F and our low is 35F). I didn’t know about the temperature before and we released her last night when it was around 45F.
Is this normal? Will she ever be able to fly? I offered some cantaloupe but she didn’t extend her proboscis.
Hi Khris, I would release her in better conditions for flight:
Releasing Monarch Butterflies
Thank you your info was very helpful!
So… I had four butterflies that were ready for release late afternoon yesterday, however, I got word that my father passed away & became distracted with speaking to family. When I checked on them later 4 more had emerged. The enclosure was looking quite full but it was already dark outside. I checked on them again later & 3 more had eclosed. The last 3 didn’t look like they were unfurling their wings. I took out all the chrysalid shells in order to try & give them more space! I assumed that they were newly emerged Bc their bodies were still huge. In the morning there wasn’t much change! I released all the healthy butterflies & sprayed some water on the remaining 3. Subsequently 4 more have emerged and they were perfect!
I’ve separated the other 3 and one of them has wings that are mostly normal but the other two have fat engorged bodies and crumpled wings still!!! Was this possibly just overcrowding?!?! I’m so so so upset!! I just want to know what I did wrong so that I can prevent it. I’m very vigilant about cleaning everything, I even change the towels after they’ve released meconium! All the milkweed is from our garden & they’re clean plants! (No chemicals, spraying etc)
Thank you for everything you do btw!! I wouldn’t bring them in at all if I hadn’t found your website! I’ve released 116 thus far! Which are great #s I know. (I’ve only lost a few at at varying stages) I know I should be happy with the success but I just hate losing any!!! Ugh! I really think this is from overcrowding! Plz tell me if you think it could be something else
Hi Gloria, crumpled wings and/or deformities are often due to heavy OE infection. congrats on all your successful releases!
I have 4 chrysalis currently and 1 turned black in the middle and is spreading out but the whole chrysalis is not black and it has been several days. I have never seen one change to clear like this and I can’t see through the small part in the middle that is black it also looks kind of red not black/clear.
I also have another one that is in the middle of turning clear normally. How long will that take to hatch? I have to bring it in for school so we can study it?
Also, what does it mean if one is dripping green liquid?
Hi Natalie, the chrysalis could be parasitized by tachinid flies or this could be disease. The most common issues are here:
I would love to share some pictures if possible. I had a hatching of 54 in one day. It was awesome setting them free, they were all over my yard. And I heard my neighbors saying “Look Look all the Monarchs” Last year was an awesome year, we released over 350. This year hasn’t been as good for some reason, but i have my hopes up.
Wonderful site! We planted a milkweed on the perimeter of our garden this spring in hopes of encouraging monarch butterflies. Also spread patches of southern garden flower mix in different areas of the garden to attract pollinators.
A few weeks ago we were pleased to see our milkweed plant covered with caterpillars. I thought I might find a chrysalis or two in the area of the milkweed plant but no luck. Very surprised to find TWO chrysalis hanging under our back porch stair railing which is about 70 feet from the milkweed plant. Do you have information on how the caterpillar selects a site for the chrysalis?
The butterflies hatched this morning! Really exciting! When I saw the first one I thought there was leaf stuck to the bottom of the sac but realized it was a monarch. Beautiful sight. In my excitement I brought out the camera, took a picture and the flash went off. Could the explosion of light affected the nervous system of fragile being? It seems to have some movement but wish I hadn’t created the stress. Thanks
Hi Reid, I think this is pretty ‘unpredictable’ behavior that varies between caterpillars. Check this out the for some ideas where to look:
50 Places to look for a Monarch Chrysalis
Thanks for the reply with the list of places a Monarch Chrysalis might appear.. Really an eye-opener as seems like they could be found in any protected spot. My garden contains many nurturing spots near the milkweed plant, including a long, double, wooden tomato trellis for 36 plants, and a mature overhanging crepe myrtle tree. Could well be a chrysalis or two hanging in those environments.
Both monarchs emerging yesterday spent a couple of hours+ developing and drying their wings and flew off. It was really humid yesterday morning so wondering if it took longer than normal for them to dry out. I saw the first do a complete “flap” of its wings but went to the garden for about 10 minutes and didn’t see either take off. Wonderful experience.
Thanks for responding so quickly.
I just had a monarch emerge, except it looks like it’s tail end is stuck in the chrysalis. What could cause that? Thank you
Hi Flo, you can spry the chrysalis with water and see if you can pull the monarch out, but being stuck in the chrysalis is a common symptom of heavy OE infection
Sadly, nearly all of the 14 chrysalis I had either didn’t open or the few that did the butterflies had crumpled wings. Early on I released 8 but several of those had crumpled wings as well. This was very discouraging considering last season I released about 25. I have about 5-6 milkweed plants but it was only 1 plant where the eggs were laid. We have a lot of praying mantis and stink bugs so I eventually put a mesh cage over the plant once I saw some eggs and caterpillars. It’s what I did last year and was successful. Could it be the plant? I’m not sure what to do next year…
Hi Nancy, there tends to be more disease issues raising outside. This sounds potentially like heavy OE infection:
OE and Prevention
Yes, I believe it was a heavy OE infection. As difficult as it was I disposed of the remaining chrysalis. I also cut back the part of the plant they fed on (part of the plant was in the mesh cage and part wasn’t so I cut back the part that was). Not sure if that will help but I suppose it can’t hurt. I will have to do a little research about raising them indoors but I’m not sure it’s possible. I saw a monarch today fluttering around that same plant so it’s possible I will see more eggs and caterpillars and I’ll have to decide what to do if that happens.
My wife and I have been blessed with around 30-35 milkweed plants right outside our patio. As a result we’ve been able to successfully release 48 healthy monarchs to date with 17 more chrysalis hanging in the large cage we purchased. There are even 5 more cats that are being fed of various sizes. I think we’ve only lost about 5 or 6 all season.
We’ve had success with the yellow racks and the tubes that hold the milkweed. Ive followed your advice on everything and thank you for helping make this a successful and enjoyable experience!
Hello. We had a crystalis form improperly ( had a black thing hanging from the bottom of it) so we figured it would never hatch. It did today, wings are fine but that black thing is stuck to its head and it looks like the poor thing is trying to get it off with its legs. Any suggestions? Im worried the black thing is a part of its head somehow and by removing it , i may kill him inadvertantly. But he may also die if i dont. Help!
Hi Jenn, you could always try spraying it with water to see if it comes off. If it’s attached, there’s probably nothing you can do.
I saw a monarch that had some black thread around one of its legs. After looking closer, it’s proboscis ( spelled wrong?) was curled around its leg. I got a pin and carefully uncurled it until it worked free. I assume it would have starved to death.
Hello! We have 3 newly hatched butterflies(all emerged today). We have them in a plastic critter cage with a vented top. It is dark out now and I was wondering if it is safe to keep them together in the cage overnight, to be released in the morning? Also there are two chrysalis in the cage with them.
yes, you can keep butterflies overnight in a plastic cage. They won’t bother the chrysalides
Your site has been so helpful to this first timer! We had 2 cats go to chrysalis on 9/3. One of them turned dark and dropped green ooze on day 2. I assumed diseased in some way and euthanized. The other one was green and looking great. Today, day 10, it is turning black as well. Is this the first step in going totally clear before eclose happens? My enclosure is a plastic butterfly cage and that makes it hard to get a real good look at the chrysalis. Thanks for the feedback!
Hi JoAnne, the chrysalis gradually becomes transparent, but turning black at the top of the chrysalis first is not normal development…this could be a bacterial issue.
I’ve been researching everywhere for info as to how old (in hours) does the newly eclosed butterfly should be before it us safe to tag him/her. I am “catsitting” a friends’ 3 that are a day or so from eclosing, and my 3 have a few more days. I should have the tags tomorrow. I don’t want to injure or damage the butterflies by tiuching them too soon! Thank you!
Hi Wendy, I think it’s at least 24 hours but check on the MW site for details about their: Tagging Program
So I have a butterfly that just hatched today my mom took her and put her on a stick and her right-wing is now bent down and her left is been down slightly is there a way to release her without her dying
Hi Haley, if the wings are crinkled and deformed, there’s little chance she will take flight.
I’m becoming so discouraged this year. I started out with 58 eggs/ cats. I’ve lost 9 cats hung but could completely change. I’ve had four butterflies hatch but not able to fly and died in the cage. I have two chrysalis turn clear I can see the butterfly in them but they have never hatched. Obviously I have something wrong. I’ve released 14 healthy Monarchs. I have 3 cats left and several chrysalis left. But I’m discouraged how many will make it now. It’s been cold and rainy here in Ohio. I’m not sure what I can do if anything. I have 3 cages with chrysalis still hanging in them. Not sure how I would know who to separate.
Hi Sherry, this could be an issue with:
Insect Growth Regulators
Hi Tony. Love your website . Thank s so much for everything you do!
I released 5 monarchs thus far and have another 31 in chrysalis and 8 about to go in chrysalis.
My dilemma is that we’re supposed to have rain and cool temperatures for the next 2-4 days and I just had three more monarchs eclose in my net tent this morning.
I know you said you can keep for two nights if you provide food but what about 3-6 nights? I will be having staggered ecloses over the next few weeks but the weather won’t be cooperating due to hurricane and tropic rain along east coast (I’m in SE Pennsylvania).
Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated!!!!
Thanks again Tony.
Hi John, I am in the same predicament as you! I am in northern Delaware and it has been raining since Friday night with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. We will not have less than a 50% chance of rain each day for the next 7 days. The weather could not be more unfavorable. And this is very unusual for us this time of year. One of my monarchs eclosed in the mesh enclosure on Saturday morning. I have 9 more that will emerge this week and next. The adult that eclosed on Saturday has not fed on the honey water or the fruit and nectar flowers I have provided. In fact, it hasn’t moved much since the house is at about 70 degrees. How long can a newly eclosed butterfly go without feeding? Can a butterfly be released on a warm day with a “chance” of a thunderstorm? Thank you, Tony, for your website and for all of the instructions and advice you have shared.
Hi Julia, check out release tips on this page for more info:
Releasing Monarchs in Bad Weather?
Hi Tony…We’re having an excellent season here in Canton,Oh. On track to release over 200 beautiful monarchs total by the end of our season. We’ve had a few problems with cats chewing on formed chrysalids, causing damage up to and including death of the butterfly inside. Why do they do this? Other than moving the chrysalids, is there any way to prevent this?
Hi Dorsee, if your milkweed is always fresh (having cuttings in water) and the cages aren’t overcrowded this is not an issue. Then, the only reason caterpillars crawl to the roof is to pupate.
How soon must a butterfly eat after it’s ready to fly?
Hi Gene, they can go for a while (days)…even when you offer them nourishment some go on a hunger strike waiting to be released. I would not attempt to feed them unless you have to keep them for more than 24 hours. Here’s release and feeding info:
Releasing Monarch Butterflies
Starting a 5 x 16 x 4 Monarch garden how do I keep the predators out. Just lost 3 beautiful monarch larvae today. They were on just one Milkweed plant I have. Seem I have all 13 predators I live in North Ohio area
Hi Betty, it’s difficult keeping up with potential predators, which is why we bring in a few to raise to give the local population a boost. It makes a difference when the survival % goes from under 5% to over 90%…even a few can make a difference
21 Tips for Raising Monarchs Indoors
Hi Tony. I managed to save two caterpillars in a small terrarium and they both are now in chrysalis. One is hanging from the top of the plastic mesh and the other hanging from a small stick I placed inside the cage,
My question is where should I place these two chrysalis outside as I suspect they won’t emerge for over a week from now and we’re going to be away on vacation mostly likely when they do emerge? I want to make sure they have the best chance for survival.
Thanks so much for any suggestions if you get a chance to respond!
PS: I have learned from my first attempt to raise these beauties that it is only through the shear numbers of caterpillars that hatch that the monarch manages to survive at all. It certainly seems that there many things going against the monarch butterflies survival. Thank goodness people like you and others and now me are around to help . 🙂
Hi John, maybe under a deck or porch rail? somewhere that would be somewhat protected from the elements without a lot of potential predators lurking around…good luck!
This morning our chrysalis started to open. All looked like it was going well. It has been a couple of hours now with no change. How long should it take the butterfly to fully emerge? Is it dead? It cracked open enough that we could see its head and the back part started to open also. It doesn’t look like it is moving at all though. Is it just Avery slow process? Or should we give up hope?
Hi Emily, they emerge quickly…about a minute or so. If it’s still in the chrysalis there is probably an issue like heavy OE infection. You can try to open it, but if the butterfly is weak and not able to hold on to anything, it is best to euthanize to avoid spreading disease.
We have two monarch chrysalis that have gone dark, but neither have eclosed after nearly a week. Bright orange wing color is visible in both, they are firm, smooth and have no odor. Any insight into what is going on? We had three cats, the first of which pupated and eclosed ahead of the others with no issue. I thought maybe it was too cold in my house since we haven’t turned the heat on yet (60’s), so moved them to the window a couple days ago in the hopes that the indirect sunlight might encourage closing, but still nothing. For what it’s worth, it took the first chrysalis over three weeks to close, though the adult did come out within a day or two of going clear. What gives?
Hi Emma, if the chrysalides still appear normal, it’s probably the low temperature.
What is OE? I understand it is an infection, but what is the meaning and how can it be prevented? I am seeing a lot of tiny yellow bugs on the milkweed plants. Will they damage the cats or chrysalis? How do get rid of them? I have had several butterflies unable to emerge properly and then died and some cats dying. Please advise. Thank You, Ruth
Hi Ruth, these two posts should have the info you are looking for:
OE and monarch diseases
How to Stop Aphids from taking over Milkweed
aphids don’t hurt monarchs directly, but an infestation can ruin your milkweed.
I had a cat hatch but the wings are really small do you know what happened? All the other 3 that hatched didn’t have this problem
Hi Samantha, deformities are often caused by heavy OE infection:
I have a monarch chrysalis at the very bottom leaf not sure if there’s enough space between the soon to emerging butterfly and the container the milkweed is in – should I move the leave to the top of the butterfly cage ?
Hi Loriana, if it’s going to be an issue, rehanging the chrysalis is always an option:
Chrysalis Problems & Solutions
We had a student bring in a monarch AS it was emerging from the chrysalis this morning! The kids were so amazed!
The chrysalis fell as it was emerging, but we were able to quickly get a stick for it to hang on. She seems to be doing well, and her wings are full and beautiful wings(: The students have named her Thunder Queen after our school mascot “thunder”.
How can we tell when she is ready to be released?
It is also a rainy day here in Des Moines, IA, so should we wait for a sunnier day to release her?
Thank you so much!
Hello Mrs. Graham and Class- please check out this post for release tips and info:
Releasing Monarchs for the Great Fall Migration
My cat formed its chrysalis about a week ago. I can see the wings of my monarch in the chrysalis but the chrysalis is very dark, almost black and it’s been dark for the past 2-3 days.
I don’t remember this happening last year. Did my monarch die? ?
Sorry Wendy, it sounds like your monarch didn’t make it. Typically, the chrysalis starts darkening the evening before the butterfly emerges. the exception would be if temps are cool…like in 50’s or low 60’s that could really slow things down.
I have one chrysalis that formed overnight 13 days ago. We are licated in Kingstin (Eastern Ontario, Canada). My daughter and I have turned a birdcage into a home for Gerdie the caterpillar. It is lined with mesh screen. It worked perfectly as we originally had “Gerdie” in a container. She is absolutely gorgeous, bright green and hanging from the mesh of the cage roof. Her gold tiara glows in the sunlight like a beacon 🙂 I have her outside in the latched cage. I’m setting up a go pro camera to capture the moment. I was concerned the chrysalis form has been too long. After reading comments on these site I believe we are still on track. Thank you and ….more to follow. It’s exciting!!
Hi there. 2 days ago I rescued a chrysalis that had formed in an inappropriate spot in my mother’s garage. I reattached it (with floss) to gardening stick and taped the stick across the top of a Tupperware container with paper towel at the bottom. I’m worried it might not be hanging high enough for the wings to have space to unfold fully. I can’t keep it outside of a container because I have kitties. I’ve never raised a butterfly before. How far from the “ground” should the chrysalis be? How wide does the container need to be? Is there anything else I should put in the container for when it encloses?
Hi Bridgett, I would use something taller like a jar so you don’t have to worry about the butterfly having enough room. All the butterfly needs is to be able to hang so its wings can dry properly…
ENJOYING your blog and others comments ! I have had a Monarch habitat for 5 years to aid in saving this magnificent endangered butterfly. I currently have 6 chrysales and 5 large cats very near making chrysalis! Also have about 25 baby caterpillars and 30 eggs all from my milkweed garden! I’ve had 2 Monarch butterflies visiting my garden making lots of eggs ! I would love to correspond with other enthusasists . I’m in Charlotte NC. email@example.com
I raise butterflies every year… This year I have 111 butterflies.. They aare hatching now.. My question is.. Why are my butterflies falling once they hatch…not all of them.. But its like one after another.. They hatch and stalk moving around like they are crazy.. I have never seen such.. So I have to stay with them because they fall and I have to hold them till their wings dry… Can someone please tell me why they are falling.. Once they are dry they are fine… This is stressing me out.. Had 5 butterflies at once fall.. Please help me thanks
Hey Brittany, this is usually due to heavy infection with OE parasites:
Monarch Diseases and Parasites
Hi Tony! I was given 3 monarch caterpillars last Friday September1st and one chrysalissed on saturday & the next on sunday but the last one didnt until today 9-11, (it was much smaller than the others,) and i found it on the floor of the jar with no silk to attach it to anything. I dont want to handle it much and so i laid it on a bed of cotton. Not sure what i can do now? Pretty sad. Any thoughts?
Hi Martha, it sounds like there is probably a health issue. You could try rehanging it, or shove a paper towel all the way into the jar so the butterfly can crawl up to hang when it ecloses:
Hi Tony…. we have had much success this year, releasing close to 1000 healthy butterflies in Los Angeles, Ca. Unfortunately this tachnid fly has been sooooooo problematic! It seems that unless I catch em right after they are born, the flies have already done the deed! And the aphids!!!! Won’t even bore u w the overwhelming amount that has taken over despite all my efforts! Anyways… the last batch I brought in of about 30-40 catties all seemed to be very light in color. I’ve never seen a whole batch like this. They managed to pupate just fine but emerged extremely early, like 2-4 days. Seemingly healthy tho. Any thoughts? And how do I know if I have migratory?
Thx so much for the time and energy you obviously devote to the dear beloved monarchs!!!!! I for one greatly appreciate your efforts!!!!
Hi Cristy, never heard of anything like what you’re describing. Out west in a warm region, I’m not sure if there would be any differences in a migratory monarch’s appearance…congrats on all your success!
Tony, based on reading old replies, I have been keeping the Monarchs overnight and releasing them 20-24 hours after eclosing.
I would have thought they would have been hungry and placed them near butterfly bushes, but so far they have all taken flight and
gone up and south. What is the recommendation for feeding adults? Wondering if I should have provided them with some food while still caged.
I have always heard they can go without food for 24 hours.
Hi Bob, I don’t even attempt to feed them unless I have to keep them more than one night…they are usually more concerned with flying free than eating, but will feed rather quickly after they are released.
This is my second summer raising monachs. By the end of the season I will release over 60 butterflies. Next year I want to put most cages outside on my deck. Tony- would you be willing to share pictures of how you set up your three season porch? I need some ideas of how to continue this hobby without it taking over my entire kitchen!!
Hi Sandi, I just out our cages in a 3-season porch, which is a great place to keep them because it exposes them to natural heat and humidity levels. I set them on tables so I don’t have to bend over as much.I will be posting more photos soon. congrats on all your success!
It has been 16 days for my chrysilas. Is this common to take longer? He is still bright green.
It can take longer for them to eclose when the temps are cooler. If the chrysalis is still bright green and looks normal, it’s probably OK.
Ours has been in chrysalis for 23 days now. Still bright green but the temps have been crazy from high 40’s at night last week to 80’s today. It’s in a mesh cage in our screened in porch. Should I assume it’s dead? How late in the season can they hatch and still make it to migrate? We have several other caterpillars I rescued that should start chrysalis soon.
Hi Heather, if the chrysalis is still green, it should be viable…those 40 degree temps are slowing down metamorphosis. As long as you still have highs in the 60’s, there’s still plenty of time time to migrate…
Had a chrysalis hatch late yesterday afternoon. Left for town early this am and didn’t get a chance to observe flying. It almost appears that it’s wings are stuck along the edge of it’s abdomen. What to do.
Hi Evangeline…unfortunately, there’s not much you can do when the wings dry deformed. You can keep the monarch as a pet or euthanize…
Tony, you write of euthanize or keep as a pet the butterflies that are damaged while eclosinng. Can you be moer specific as to how to euthanize or keep as a pet? Thank you, Ruth
Hi Ruth, I just added this info to the page:
Euthanize by placing the butterfly inside a paper towel and squeezing or place the butterfly inside a plastic baggie and put in your freezer for 24 hours.
I have 3 chrysalises that have been at this stage for up to 16 days now. They are still green and look normal except for the one that had fallen. I rehung him (her), but the chrysalis is slightly malformed. Will these guys emerge? I wonder if the temp in my bathroom is too cold and am thinking of moving the net enclosure outside for the day. Is this a good idea?
Hi Lynn, 16 days is as long time, but if the chrysalides are still green, they should be ok…yes, you might want to move them to a warmer area. good luck!
We’ve been raising butterflies from our backyard for a few months now, and we have our first real problem. One of the chrysalises fell to the bottom of the cage and I didn’t reattach it. The butterfly had already started to emerge from the ground this morning when my daughter noticed it. I attached him to another butterfly’s old chrysalis and he is hanging there, but doesn’t look like he’s making any progress on expanding his wings. His wings are in a crumpled position. I feel like this is the end for this guy. Is there anything that can be done?
Hi Kelly, if the wings dried crumpled, the butterfly will not be able to fly. Many times butterflies fall because the are weak/sick because of OE parasites. If the butterfly seems weak, it would probably be best to euthanize. Otherwise, if it seems strong, you could attempt to keep it as a pet. More info here about feeding:
Feeding and Releasing Adult Butterflies
Hey Tony. I live at the northern range in northern Ontario along the shore of lake Superior with 3 acres of milkweed. No one else really has any in the area. What I was wondering is that the first bunch of Monarchs that arrived in the spring laid eggs on the leaves as normal. Then the ones that hatched are laying eggs on the unopened flowers and that is what the caterpillars are now eating and not the leaves. Are these ones the Super Monarchs. Also I found a Monarch last Feb. at -30 deg. Brought it in the house where it came out of the chrysalis and lived for 4 days on sugar water. Must have antifreeze as a Super. Thanks Buddy for the Great site.
Your Northern neibour Roger..
Hi Roger, if the migration starts on time, your baby caterpillars should be be the ones that get things started…a frozen chrysalis that survived northern winter temps. you should have documented that..that is amazing!
Sorry Tony i did not think of documenting it. The chrysalis was clear with the monarch showing thru. May be it did not come out because of the cold. It was in Feb. the coldest time of the year. I am glad we do not have the disease and predators you have in the south. Where do the Florida monarchs go after hatching?
Thanks again for Your time
Hi Roger, I’m in Minnesota. There’s a year round monarch population in central/south Florida and no solid data on what % migrate to Mexico…this would make for an interesting research project!
We also have year-round Monarchs here in San Marcos, California (North San Diego County). However, I’m fairly convinced that a large % of the local Monarchs migrate, but I wonder if they’re only flying to one of the local over-wintering trees south of here, in San Diego. We were seeing lots of Monarchs in our garden before the recent heat wave, but now only an occasional butterfly. We’ve released 5 females in the last week, since the worst of the heatwave passed. All of them flew north when we released them, but I don’t know if that means anything.
I have several caterpillars in different sizes . At what point can I put them together in the same container? Also I am using two different types of containers. One is a mesh cage , where I have a chrysalis . I purchased a plastic terrarium with a screened top . Is it o.k. to raise them in that?
Hi Carol, we always put them in the same cage. We separate them by using stem cuttings. You can use plastic…we prefer mesh becuase it provides better air circulation. Here’s more info on stem cuttings:
Using Stem Cuttings to Feed Caterpillars
I wouldn’t put very tiny caterpillars in with the bigger guys. Caterpillars often move onto different leaves and I would be afraid the bigger ones might eat the tiny ones. In my experience, once they are more medium sized you should be OK.
How long does it usually take for a butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis? This is my first time raising Monarchs and I have three….one has completely hatched,one is still in a chrysalis, and my last one looks like his head is out. Thank you for the wealth of information you share, I greatly appreciate it.
Hi Kimberly, between 9-14 days….cool temps slow down metamorphosis
Thank you! I was worried about the one who has his head out might be stuck. He is still hanging out in his chrysalis. When would that be worrisome?
Hi Kimberly, I misunderstood your original question…they are in chrysalis stage 9-14 days total. When they start emerging from the chrysalis it takes around a minute. Getting stuck in the chrysalis could indicate heavy OE infection or even dehydration…you can try to help it out, but you will probably have to euthanize if it can’t hang and dry its wings properly…sorry!
Thank you so much! Younhave been very helpful.
I had a monarch hatch this morning, but very little meconium came out- maybe one drop. That’s the least amount I’ve ever seen . She looked fine otherwise Comma just not as active as they usually are. I let her out on a plant this afternoon and she is still hanging there 3 hours later. Do you think she is ill and that I should euthanize her? Thank you.
Hi Gloria, if temps are cool this can be a reason for less active butterflies. I’m not sure about the ‘less meconium’ report, but if the wings expanded and she dried properly I wouldn’t worry about that. You can always keep them overnight and see if the improve the next day…
I had a monarch butterfly emerge from his chrysalis yesterday. When he came out he fell to the bottom of the cage. I helped him up, careful to not touch his wings because they were still wet. He hasn’t moved much but is a live. He has a wonky wing. I am worried he’s not going to make it. But it’s chilly in southeastern MN right now 58 degrees outside, 68 inside. Could it be too cold for him or could he have injured himself?
hi, it’s been a bit cool in our region for monarchs to be active, but if he’s not ready to fly by tomorrow then there’s an issue with the wing or a disease like OE that weakens butterflies and can cause wing deformities. More info here:
If you think the butterfly is OK, here are tips for release:
Releasing Monarch Butterflies
Hi, i have several seedlings,, in my yard from my host plant!!! And i have read good readings about the milkweed plants, what i want to know is how can you tell the difference between tropical and native miilkweed, mine have pinkish flowers on the plants!!! If they are tropical i just don’t know, haven’t had but one monarch a)l summer, havve had a black swollowtail, ealier this month, ok, please respond. Thanks, Jewell Kelley
Hi Jewell, your native milkweed is the one with the pink flowers while tropical milkweed looks like this:
I had 2 chrysalis fall to bottom of mesh enclosure after the leaf they were attached to was eaten. Will butterflies still emerge. Second question: is it of any benefit to the monarch population, to collect large cats(2inches) and place in my mesh enclosure? I thought maybe they could fend on their own due to being distasteful .thank you.
Hi Beth, you can definitely bring large caterpillars in. How much success you have doing this will depend on your region. In Minnesota, we have a high success rate with this, but in warm regions there are more pathogens and parasite issues. You can leave them outside too and hope for the best..
Whenever we have caterpillars pupate on plants we typically remove the leaf and rehang them so they’re out of harms way. If the chrysalises still look ok after falling, they definitely have a chance to emerge as healthy butterflies. Good luck!
How long after they emerge before we should let them go outside? I left one go too early a couple years ago and later found part of a wing on the ground. I was very disappointed I had done that! Just had one hatch over noon today and don’t want the same thing to happen to her. Meanwhile I am searching your site to see if I can find an answer. 🙂
Hi Jo, we usually keep them outside in a mesh cage for about 3 hours which works well. Here’s more info:
Releasing Monarch Butterflies
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