House-monarch advice – and diseased leaves

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  • #44563


    After watching at least a dozen chrysalises and undried butterflies die over the past couple of weeks – I assumed from the cold – I brought any viable-looking survivors into the house. I currently have the chrysalises in a birdcage near a window (wooden box with wire mesh at the front) and the caterpillars on cut swan plant in waterbottles with the tops sealed with tissue paper. I don’t have anything big enough to cover them with, so the bottles are in an open tub, and caterpillars are placed back on the plant if they wander too far away or drop off.

    I’ve never done this before, and as well as needing general advice, I have some specific questions:

    1. Is it OK to change the angle a branch with a chrysalis/hanging caterpillar is leaning at when moving it?

    2. Is it OK to move a caterpillar’s branch after it’s made a button and hung upside down, but before it forms a chrysalis?

    3. Before they were brought inside, a lot of the caterpillars hung and made chrysalises before they were full size – the chrysalises they made were smaller than normal and two so far have fallen off (inside the house) and broken open on the floor of the cage with no external provocation. Is there a reason beyond being smaller that they might have fallen off? I read in the FAQ that disease can be responsible for chrysalises falling off, and I think there is black mould on the lower leaves of the swan plants outside.

    4. What to do with any butterflies that hatch? I’m just south of Auckland.

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  • #44570


    Thanks very much for your help! 🙂



    1. Yes, that’s fine.

    2. Yes, if you’re careful.

    3. I have smaller chrysalises and Js here too (I’m in Auckland, Blockhouse Bay to be exact). Caterpillars at this time of the year are more vulnerable and less likely to survive. There is less daylight and warmth so they grow much more slowly and are therefore more vulnerable – there’s also more wind and wet so that can affect them too.

    4. Let them go. If they’re out of the “real” weather, then they can’t adjust to the conditions. Inside we like it warm and light – and that to butterflies means summer and reproduction and nectaring. So long as they’re out of the wind and lots of wet, then they should be fine, they’ll fly away and find an overwintering spot.

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