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August 12, 2010

Forming the Chrysalis: Painted Lady Butterflies

Well 2 of the 5 Painted Lady Butterflies have already "made" their chrysalis this morning. Two more are hanging upside down now on the lid, and the 5th one is just hanging out on the side of the container. The literature that came with the caterpillars said that it will take about 1-2 days to form the chrysalis and 7-10 to emerge from it. So we are going to move all of what we can on Saturday (day 3) to the butterfly habitat.

We knew the process had started this morning. When I woke up at around 7 am I asked Web-Princess if she checked on her caterpillars yet this morning. She said no but I will. Web-Princess and Hubby, who was finishing up getting ready for work, checked them out and seen that 2 of them were already hanging upside down and the one was just wiggling really fast. Hubby said let's move them (to the butterfly habit). I had to tell him NO, it's to early they are still caterpillars. We have to wait until they are in a chrysalis to move them.

DH asked why was he shaking like that and I naively said he's spinning his chrysalis. Seeing it would take some days, we just went about our business and when we looked again at about 8:30, this morning, the chrysalis was completely form and the second one had started on his. It was at the time we also observed that 2 more caterpillars and made their way to the top and started to hang as well.

Some things we observed at that point was the completed chrysalis had a "fuzzy" thing next to it where it was hanging from the jar. The one that was working on his chrysalis had it started down the bottom towards it's mouth. What is going on? What is the fuzzy stuff? I thought they spinned their chrysalis? I know I got this idea from school, teachers, or someone as I was growing up.  We could tell this fuzzy stuff was caterpillar skin. We were just confused why it was outside they chrysalis. Not only that but I was confused on why the other one was starting his chrysalis at his mouth.

So I went searching and found this video on Youtube:

I then dug a little deeper and found this information on Earth's Birthday Project:
The caterpillar finds a safe place to rest. With a silk thread that comes out of a hole just below its mouth (spinneret), the caterpillar spins a silk pad to attach to. The caterpillar hangs from this pad. Soon, the caterpillars’ skin splits open, from head to abdomen, revealing a shiny green case underneath—the chrysalis.
So that fuzzy stuff we seen was indeed shed skin and the painted butterfly does NOT spin a chrysalis!

We are still waiting for the aquasaur eggs to arrive.


  1. We had painted lady butterflies in the spring and the information that we got with ours said the fuzzy green stuff was their waste. I wonder if it was waste or skin now. By the time they were fat hairy caterpillars we all had a hard time looking at them. It sounds like your caterpillars are moving fast. It took about three weeks from arrival to butterflies for our caterpillars.

  2. I agree it seems the process is moving fast here too. I know the paper work said they would be larvae (caterpillars) for 7-10 days. We got them on the 6th, so this is day 6 or maybe it's 7 if you count the 6th as day one. :)

    WP is wanting to move the 2 that are done now! I'm having a hard time convincing her that it's okay for them to stay for a day or 2 while we give the other ones some more time.

    Although, I did have a dream last night that they all hatched inside the cup before we had a chance to move them. LOL (I haven't told anyone here that-I just find it ironic that I had a dream about them last night.)

    It is hard to see into our cup too. It looks as if it's covered with "spider" webs. Not only that but the food is also up along the sides too. It's like they just took a bunch of it and made little pellets of it and put it all over the place.

    We were luck enough to see clearly enough to noticed the "shed" skin at the based of the chrysalis.

    The only thing I can think is that perhaps ours are moving a little faster then yours because of the time of year?? It's been in the 80's here and we do NOT have AC so our house is nice and toasty warm!

    Although I have to say we NEVER seen them eat or move. Every time we have taken a look they just are sitting there. I've personally have watched them for like 20 minutes straight and never any movement.

    Seeing the one shake this morning and observing the 2nd one form its chrysalis is the only movement we've seen! LOL

    We knew they were alive and doing well. Because the location was different and of course they have gotten bigger. Not to mention the food being moved around and the threads being formed!

  3. That was awesome! Thank you for sharing it!


  4. Our house was chilly when we had them so I suppose that could have accounted for the slow progress. We did see ours eating a lot. We had one that would eat until he made a decent sized hole in the food and then finally move to another location to repeat the process a few hours later.

  5. I have 2 painted lady butterflies one made it to the top but other one just layer on the bottom to start their crystalist is that normal?

    1. I'm unsure if that is normal. I'm sorry for the late reply. Hopefully by now they have come out of their crystalist.


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