The Night Before Chrysalis- A Monarch Butterfly Christmas Story
Share Holiday Joy on the Wings of Butterflies
‘Twas the night before chrysalis and all through the cage, not a monarch was stirring, in any butter-stage!
Each day a new butterfly hatches feels like Christmas morning. Have you ever experienced the joy of raising magnificent monarchs? It’s an awe-inspiring experience for kids of all ages…
All the monarchs were hung on the ceiling with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…
Monarch butterflies must have room to hang upside down for at least two hours after emerging from their chrysalides. This allows their wings to expand and dry so they can take flight!
But I heard him flapping as he flew out of sight, Happy Chrysalis to all, and to all a good night!
While fully dried butterfly wings aren’t strong enough to carry, say, a Christmas ball ornament…they’ll help to elude predators, so be sure to give them at least 3 hours before you release butterflies back to nature.
This increases the odds they’ll survive to find a great butter-love and start a new generation of magnificent monarchs.
Mom and I had a busy summer raising monarchs. Two second-generation monarchs, thirteen third-generation monarchs, and the number skyrocketed when we raised the migratory generation. After we removed and counted each empty chrysalis, the grand total stood at 53. The moral of the story is simple. Plant the milkweed, keep it pesticide free, and the monarchs will definitely come!
My last chrysalis for 2021 should hatch in a couple of days making a total of 65 Monarchs raised this year. This was a drop from 2020 when 82 flew away from my back yard. I hope to do better next year.
I love the version The Night Before Chrysalis ! Is there a longer version?
We live in southwest Florida and have enjoyed a fruitful Monarch season. We saved 43 caterpillars and released all but two, whose wings were not fully developed. We released six on Thanksgiving with extended family watching and cheering them on their way. We were surprised this week to find a large caterpillar on a milkweed leaf. He has built his chrysalis and he’ll be set free when he’s ready. I say he because it’s was a very large caterpillar! It’s been a busy and wonderful season of Monarchs❣️
Lovely story! I have one Monarch still in chrysalis, probably will emerge at the end of Dec. or in the new year. I am grateful for all that you do and share with us Tony.
Wishing you a wonderful and amazing Holiday!
I loved raising my 37 (or was it 39?) beautiful Monarchs this year. I learned one thing…I need to plant more milkweed. 4 plants were barely enough and I was sweating it before the last caterpillar made it’s chrysalis.
My daughter will begin her Monarch journey come spring.
Merry Chrysalis, Tony!
Thank you for all you do and I wish you a very Happy New Year too!
Holiday Greetings from south of Houston.
Have been raising Monarchs for several years. Several neighbors also have milkweed.
As I write this there are about a dozen caterpilars on plants I didn’t get cut down.
With 80 degree days they are eating machines. Usually warm enough except January and
February . Some summers there are very few until fall.
It is very magical when they emerge!! I have been so fortunate to learn of the world of Monarchs through my past job. I now grow milkweed from seed, and even though I have only seen one Monarch where I live on the mountain, I still advocate for native milkweed to my friends and families and tell them how important it is to have a pollinator garden. I hope maybe in two years I can get my garden certified. I am in southern Oregon
Thank you for all you do!!!
I had 3 butterflies as of 9pm in Yulee, Florida emerge from Chrysalis on Christmas Day. One at 9:30-10:00 am second around 2:00 pm and one at 8:30 pm.. will have to keep them inside for a few days and feed them.. freezing temps tonight( Christmas Night) and hard freeze tomorrow at night..then a little warm up..I was watching Chrysalises the last few days and was getting anxious when I seen a few start becoming translucent. So I was hoping a few would emerge on Christmas Day and got my wish.. these 3 butterflies are special to me as they emerged on Christmas Day when we celebrate Jesus’s Birth. And because this year we also had the Great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn to create the Star of Bethlehem. Which was last observed 800 years ago this close to Christmas Day
I just had a female Monarch fluttering around my Milkweed in the garden. The temperature was in the mid 70’s today in S Florida. A straggler maybe, or just sticking around? Not sure, but I usually don’t see them after Thanksgiving until mid-March. This year I have had few late comers .
Hi Suzanne, central and south Florida have a year-round population…enjoy!
An earlier comment mentioned wormwood (Artemisia) in regard to wasps. Is this helpful?
Sandra and Ginny, I am not familiar with this, but it sounds like this could have insecticidal properties for bees and moths too, so not the first solution I would try:
Stop wasps in the butterfly garden?
Wormwood (Artemisia) Info
Here in southeast Florida the milkweed plants are healthy and plentiful in my gardens and new plants are emerging all the time. I have had one monarch laying eggs everyday. Our biggest threat are the flies that lay eggs on the caterpillars. Everything looks fabulous until they are in their chrysalis stage and they never emerge. Their bodies liquify in the chrysalis. It is so sad. My neighbor harvests my eggs and caterpillars from my plants to give them a fighting chance inside her cages. The wasp has been around also , but not too many in this winter season. Yellow aphids are a problem and they gather in mass on the seed pods and blossoms. I am going to try releasing lady bugs to see if that takes care of the aphids. Any suggestions on what to do about the flies. The caterpillars are huge and beautiful, but then don’t make it.
Hi Valerie, here are a couple posts that should give you some ideas growing forward:
I just want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years, Tony. Your blog is amazing and so informative. Thank you for the time you put into it. ???
I really need to cut back my milkweed, but I just found a 5 th in star caterpillar in it yesterday! It has snowed 6 inches here in south Louisiana and colder weather than usual. I am surprised at the tenacity of this caterpillar!
Still have 4 chrysalis left waiting to emerge.
Out here in Los Angeles (near ocean) we had two chrysalis hatch on Christmas morning–I was in the house with the flu but nature just keeps on trucking… Had a problem with wasps this year–kept taking my caterpillars to feed their young–never did find the nest but we bought wormwood (Artemisia) and it seems to work. Nice grey/green foliage.
Thanks Tony for all your articles and help… Happy New Year!
WOW! I used to have wormwood but never knew it repelled wasps! I’ve definitely got to get some more in my garden. Thank you for sharing!
I’m south Louisiana, too. 15 chrysalis and at least a dozen cats in my butterfly huts. This is my first year raising monarchs. Worried it will be too cold to fly away. Not many flowers for nectar. What do you think?
Hi BG, you can release them if/when you have 60° highs for weather…more info here:
Safely Release Monarchs
Merry Christmas Tony
i,m in Safty Harbor,florida….
still having cats…..been raising monarchs for 2 years now….such a joy to watch them grow…
still learning…….all my neighbors loving them flying around my house,they here all year….just not to many in the winter……
love my butterflys……….Hannah……
Thank you for all your hints. I’ve learned a lot. I still have 10 chrysalides waiting to open, but I brought my cages indoors. I’m in Port Hueneme, which is North of LA and south of Santa Barbara. We get a lot of monarchs in the fall. I just hope the fires and the smoke we had in these last few weeks haven’t affected the wintering population. Happy New Year! Audrey
Ps. Loved your Night before Chrysalides
Tony – thank you for all the monarch wisdom you share with us. I have been raising monarchs for 15+ years and there is always something new to learn. It snowed here in St. Louis overnight. So pretty but so looking forward to my 2018 monarch season. Merry Christmas.
I can’t wait for Monarch season to start next year. Hope my 100 swamp weed seeds come up because I want to start a butterfly club here and share with everyone. I have my daughter a butterfly house wrapped up for Christmas. Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Tony! Here in SW Florida every day is monarch Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday . . .). Your raising tips are really helpful especially for those of us new to the privilege of raising these magnificent creatures from eggs on our milkweed plants in the garden.
enjoy those winter monarchs for the rest of us Ruth…Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Tony.
Hope you have lots of cages in stock — I’ll be doing a class here in Florida in January and will be promoting your products. We are snowbirds, so hopefully everyone will raise monarchs once they return to their up-north homes!
Thanks for all you do.
Hi Sally, we still have all cage sizes in stock and more are currently being manufactured…the plan is not to run out in 2018 ?
Thank you always for your kind words and support…Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Tony. Thank you for all you do.
Merry Christmas Tony!
Is there any info re migration numbers for last year yet?
Hi Derek, those numbers will probably be released in February or March…Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Tony and thank you for sharing so much knowledge! I look forward to your letters as do we all. Already planning for the new year!
I just wanted to let you know at Christmas time how much I appreciate the caring and kind attitude that you show towards all of the people who visit your site and to thank you for sharing your love of Monarchs with all of us. I always look forward to your messages!
Thx for the tale and for the wishes… Merry Christmas to you as well Tony
A few of my gardening friends would get a kick out of some of your pictures that you have edited with words or sayings. However, I didn’t want to send them out without asking your permission. Would it be ok to forward a Christmas picture or two?
Hi Brian, feel free to share any of my posts with your gardening friends…that’s what they are there for. Merry Christmas!
I dont know when I should start raising butterflies. I live in VA. Its sept 24. Do I need to wait until spring?
Hi Cheri, it’s too late to start raising monarchs in your region. But, you have plenty of time to get prepared in the off-season. Fall is a great time for planting milkweed plants and it will give you a big head start on next season:
Fall Planting for Next Year’s Butterflies
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