caterpillars not completely turning

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  • #13128


    I have posted a couple of pictures in the photo section of my 3rd caterpillar not completing their transformation into chrysalis’s. If some-one could enlighten me as to what could be happening I would be most grateful. Its pitiful to watch them struggling to get to this stage, and then nothing else happens. I thought it might have been the plant, but 2 of other pillars have transformed without any problem on the same plant.

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  • #17675


    From my experience, Caron, this sort of thing is caused by poor quality food, crowding or change in food. It’s like the caterpillars don’t have enough “oomph” to successfully pupate. There is nothing you can do about it, really – we create this problem for ourselves by wanting to have every one a success.

    In the wild this will happen too. I have been to a few different people’s places lately and seen people with hundreds of plants, and hundreds of caterpillars, and caterillars streaming across grass lawns on the lookout for “better” quality food.

    Obviously this must have a tremendous stress on their system as they go on walkabout, and they will lose condition.

    Other people may have other opinions – but that’s my two cents worth.

    Remember in the wild, 1% of the eggs that are laid might make it to butterfly stage. We up the odds by protecting them from predators, but we must have consistent supplies of good milkweed for them if we want to be very successful. Next year you will probably establish more food supplies – but remember, if all that food is exposed for Monarchs to lay their eggs on, you will be faced with the same problem eventually; shortage of food, and a frantic scramble to find more.

    Stay with it! It’s sad, but it’s a lesson for you. Focus on all of the extra Monarchs you’ve helped make it through to butterflies.


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