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.
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, euthanized, or left outside to support the ecosystem. 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 it’s chrysalis, OE is again the likely issue. If a chrysalis is transparent for more than 48 hours, the butterfly will not emerge. 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