What You Need to Know About Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

The Monarch butterfly chrysalis is a green and spindle-shaped pupa you can care for by keeping it in a humid, protected environment. However, know that common issues with Monarch butterfly chrysalises include dehydration and parasitism.

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis Identification

The Monarch butterfly chrysalis is a third stage in Monarch butterfly life cycle. It is a small, green, spindle-shaped pupa that hangs upside down from a branch or leaf. The chrysalis is smooth and shiny and has a gold-colored strip running down its back. The pupa is about 3 to 4 inches long. The adult Monarch butterfly emerges from its green chrysalis after about a couple of days, maximum 2 weeks.

What Are the Gold Dots on the Chrysalis?

Monarch butterfly chrysalis
Monarch butterfly chrysalis

The gold dots on the back of a Monarch butterfly chrysalis are the epidermal cells. These dots don’t contain any pigment. According to experts, these 12 “gold” dots produce hormones that could help with the full butterfly development, but more research needs to be done to confirm this.

Still, these shiny spots have several purposes:

  • Camouflage
  • Warning coloration
  • Filtering harmful wavelengths of light
  • Oxygen exchange

As for the components of the chrysalis, it is mostly made of caterpillar skin that the larva is about to shed for the last time before going into the pupal phase (sometimes simultaneously with overwintering).

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How Long Does It Take for a Monarch Butterfly to Hatch From Its Chrysalis?

Monarch butterfly typically emerge from their chrysalis after 10 to 14 days. The time it takes for a Monarch butterfly to hatch can depend on the temperature of the environment. If you’re raising Monarchs at a room temperature, you can expect them to emerge in this timespan.

The butterfly that is emerging from the chrysalis is called an “imago.” The imago is the adult phase of the Monarch butterfly that comes after the pupa stage/chrysalis stage.

Signs of Monarch Butterfly Emergence

Transparent Monarch butterfly chrysalis
Transparent Monarch butterfly chrysalis

There are a few signs that indicate that a Monarch butterfly is about to emerge from its chrysalis. The first sign is that the chrysalis will become transparent, and you will see the colorful butterfly inside. The second sign is that the butterfly will start to pump its wings and move the walls of the chrysalis.

Monarch Chrysalis Care

To successfully care for Monarch butterfly chrysalises, create a humid, protected environment to avoid dehydration. You can do this by placing the chrysalises in a covered container, such as a jar or plastic container, with a layer of moist paper towels at the bottom. 

Misting the inside of the container with water from time to time will also help, but don’t overdo it or you’ll ruin the integrity of the chrysalis.

The container should be placed in a location out of direct sunlight. Also avoid using pesticides around the area as this can be harmful to the Monarch butterfly pupas.

Is a Monarch Chrysalis Easy to Find?

Monarch chrysalises can be found in a variety of habitats including butterfly gardens, parks, and fields. The chrysalis is often found attached to a branch or leaf. It is often easy to notice because of its light green shade and golden metallic dots that reflect light. In come cases, the chrysalides will be up to 10 meters away from the host plant.

Can You Touch a Monarch Chrysalis?

The Monarch butterfly chrysalis is not toxic, and you will not harm the butterfly if you touch the chrysalis. However, it is important to be gentle when handling the chrysalis because the butterfly inside is delicate. You don’t want to move the chrysalis, unless it has fallen to the ground or it’s attached on a dangerous spot (such as a car wheel).

Common Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis Diseases and Issues

There are a few common diseases and issues that can affect the Monarch butterfly chrysalis during this life stage.

Dehydration is a usual issue and can occur if the chrysalis is not kept in a humid environment. Dehydration can cause the chrysalis to become dry and brittle.

Another common disease is parasitism. Parasitism can occur if the chrysalis is attacked by another insect. For example, Cassotis wasp is the most common insect that parasitizes Monarch.

Some usual infections of Monarch butterfly chrysalis include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These infections can cause the chrysalis to become sick or even die.

There are also a few potential predators that can affect the butterfly life cycle or Monarch life cycle. These predators include ants, wasps, and spiders.

If the chrysalis gets sick, it will typically become discolored. The chrysalis may also get deformed. In some instances, the chrysalis may ooze due to infection or injury.

You can prevent most of these issues with a butterfly cage. It will ward off predators from disturbing the butterflies while in this fragile state of development.

How to Give Caterpillars More Places to Pupate?

If you want to give the Monarch caterpillars more places to pupate, you can provide them with additional surfaces like milkweed leaves, branches, or logs. You can also give them man-made areas, such as cloth or paper.

You may place host plants around your garden. Some host plants that benefit Monarch butterfly pupas include:

  • Baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Willow (Salix lasiolepis and Salix babylonica)
  • Milkweed plants (Asclepias)
  • Flowery senna (Cassia corymbosa)
  • Passionflower (Passiflora)
  • Pipevine (Aristolochia fimbriata) 

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