Monarchs very rarely pupate on the host plant that they hatched on. In fact, they can pupate up to 10 meters away from their original host milkweed! They look for places to pupate where they will be safe from predators and inclement weather but sometimes they don't always choose the most logical locations. Here is a list of places to look for chrysalises.
Why would I want to move a chrysalis?
1) It has fallen to the ground.
Monarch chrysalises can get dislodged by wind, rain, birds, people and several other factors! In order for a Monarch to eclose safely, the chrysalis needs to be suspended in the air. The Monarchs often cling to their empty chrysalis as they uncrumple their wings and air dry them before being able to take flight. If they do not have sufficient space ( at least 1-2 inches on all sides and 4 inches below), their wings may not develop correctly and they won't be able to fly.
2) It's in harm's way.
Have you ever found a chrysalis in a doorway, on a car tire, on a window or somewhere you know it is unsafe? You may want to relocate the chrysalis to a safer location.
3) You want to watch the metamorphosis occur.
It's okay if you want to move the chrysalis into a protected area such as a butterfly house or mesh enclosure in order to watch the beautiful process occur. Experts say that less than 10% of wild Monarchs survive outdoors due to predation. Monarchs make up for this low rate of survival by laying 300-500 eggs in their lifetimes. Watching this miracle occur is a joy for all ages and can be a wonderful educational tool for children.
How to Move a Monarch Chrysalis
- Dental Floss
- A Pin or Safety Pin
Step 1: Locate the Chrysalis and Make Sure It is Safe to Move
Fresh chrysalises are delicate and need time to harden before you can move them safely. Observe the chrysalis before moving it. Is it an opaque green or is it starting to turn transparent so you can see the Monarch inside?
The Monarch's pupation stage is 10-14 days and the chrysalis will harden after 1-2 days. If the chrysalis is completely transparent, revealing the black and orange butterfly within, it will begin to emerge within 24 hours. If you are unsure when pupation occured, it is best to wait a day before moving the chrysalis.
However, If you know that it is in dire danger, then move immediately with the utmost care. If a chrysalis breaks, it will ooze and the Monarch will not be able to survive this damage.
Step 2: Remove the Silk Pad
Look closely at the chrysalis and use a magnifying glass if necessary. The silk pad will be attached to the surface and the black cremaster is directly below it. Very gently, loosen the silk pad by inserted the pin where the surface and silk meet. Try not to disturb the cremaster. Carefully, wiggle the pin until the silk starts to pull away from the surface. Once there is enough slack, pull the silk off of the surface with your fingers or tweezers if needed. Cup your other hand beneath the chrysalis to protect it from falling to the ground.
Step 3: Adhere Dental Floss to the Silk Pad
Step 4: Hang the Beautiful Chrysalis
Grab the ends of the floss and tie around a branch, rod or other secure fixture that is at least 4 inches off of the ground and 1 inches of clearance on all sides. If you are using a mesh enclosure instead, use the pin to secure the knot to the top of the cage.
Step 5: Let the Butterfly Hang Out!
It takes several hours for the monarch butterfly's wings to dry properly. They may begin to flap them gently to expedite the process. Let them be and do not touch their wings at all while they are drying. This can damage the scales on them and render them unable to fly.
Congratulations!! You just successfully moved a chrysalis and may have just save their lives!