question about protecting cocoons

judyny6(z6 NY)July 25, 2010

My 6 cocooned caterpillars should be ready to emerge, its been 10 days. Thanks to help from forum, I have placed a net over them to protect them. Should I remove the net before they emerge, or do they still need protecting? They are black swallowtails, if that matters. I worry about removing the netting after they emerge and harming them while their wings dry. They are out in my garden, I was too nervous to take them in, attached to the potted parsley plant they were eating and some sticks I placed in the dirt. Thanks for any advice.

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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

Probably a judgment call on your end. I personally don't think the net will be a problem. We've released as many as 25 monarchs at a time from a metal screened cage, some had to have been ready to go for hours. I saw no damage to any of them. They are not going to flutter around until they are ready to fly.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:04AM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

You just need to keep an eye on the net set up everyday. Most butterflies emerge in the morning on a sunny day. When they begin to flutter and flap their wings (usually 1 1/2 to 2 hours--depends on how hot it is), they are ready to be released. They do need enough room to inflate their wings. Just make sure there's enough room so they can hang to dry.

If you take off the netting, the pupa (chrysalis) can still get eaten. Predators eat them in all stages.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 9:33AM
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judyny6(z6 NY)

Thanks for responding- runmede, I used 5 gallon paint strainer that I think you suggested. There is alot of vegetation in with them. I am watching them closely, but am worried about the fact that I leave for vacation this saturday. I read that black swallowtails take 9 to 11 days, so I hope they are ready before I go- its been 10 already. Thanks for telling me about predators, I want to keep them safe. I guess I am worried about slipping the net- strainer off of them and injuring them while their wings dry, but I guess I can cut it. Also one pupated a day before others, and now am worried about keeping him trapped while others finish. Any more advice? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 4:50PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

Do you have anyone that can keep an eye on your pupa (chrysalis)? They could emerge while you are gone and the butterflies will die before you return. Butterflies need nectar to survive.

If the pupa are hardened, they can easily be taken off the food. I just spray the silk mat and pupa with water and then wait 10 seconds. Carefully, pull the silk free. If you had something for them to climb up on, you could actually take them along and watch them emerge.

Even those paint strainers can act as cages. Just need to make some kind of frame, put them into the bottom and then close the top. There should be netting all around. They do not have to be hanging.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 5:40PM
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judyny6(z6 NY)

My mother in law is coming every other day to feed our cats- is that enough, or should I have a neighbor check in on other days? I think taking them might be too much- I'm a new mother on the edge! Thanks so much, you have been such a huge help already. Should they be out before I leave, or is impossible to know that?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 6:28PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

They may spend the winter with you or they may come out before you leave or after you are gone.

First, they need enough room to inflate their wings.
Second, if they are still pupae (chrysalis) then, they do need someone checking on them daily (especially since it will be more than 10 days when you leave).

I raise so many butterflies that I feel like a mother on the edge. A friend just brought me some newly hatched mourning cloak caterpillars. They don't seem to like the willow that I put in for them to use. Now, I will have to go out and find something else for them to eat. Caterpillars are just as picky as toddlers. He also brought me one Zebra Swallowtail, one Tiger Swallowtail, and one Black Swallowtail egg. He is going on vacation--I get more butterflies!.

I already have a 5' net container full of Red Admirals, a screen tent with many tiny munching Monarchs, a 3' container with tiny munching Pipevine Swallowtails--that's it until I find more fluttery creatures to take in.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 7:01PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


If you can stretch the paint strainer over something without a bottom, your butterflies can escape when they eclose. Or turn the strainer wrong side out and hang it on a post or plant in the garden. If you have chrysalides on a plant, just set it outside. Just fix everything so the butterflies have the freedom to leave. They will be able to hang from the netting and stretch and pump their wings.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 7:12PM
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judyny6(z6 NY)

I felt just like a mother on the edge as well- until I came out yesterday to find my first butterfly had emerged! I felt like a proud parent as I took off the net and watched her fly away! Now I am back to being crazed, since there is no way I can get the paint strainer back on the 5 remaining cats. It is hard to explain, but they are on a tangle of the potted parsley plant and the fennel plant growing in my garden. The fennel that was tucked in the net grew, and I just can't get all of them and their plant matter tucked back in without jostling them. Of course it is raining this morning, when I had hoped to watch the rest of the emerge safely. I am guessing they won't come out when their wings can't dry. I have never felt such awe as when I watched the first butterfly I had helped fly safely away- I hope to feel the same for the rest! I can see them from my deck and windows, and I am like a mother hen hovering over them, now that they are uncovered. Please wish me and them luck, and I welcome more advice- thanks for all the great suggestions so far.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 7:37AM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

You are right, they know when it is raining. They will not emerge on a rainy day. If you can't put the netting back on, then leave it off as Sandy suggested. Good luck, Mona

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:16AM
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I found -- and then lost -- the name of a Florida-based company that makes all shapes and sizes of clever netting for protecting chrysalis. Can anyone recommend a good supplier? These things don't cost much to make but I was impressed by the flexibility and unique features I saw on that youtube. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:02AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I do NOT recommend using a netting product for overwintering pupae because hungry animals will chew through it and eat your pupae.

That said,
Shady Oak Butterfly Farm and Live Monarch are two places in Florida that sell enclosures.

The place I do most of my business with is Megaview in Taiwan. Many of the things you find online from US based stores come from Megaview. I have been very pleased with how quickly I get things even though I always use the cheapest shipping option.

If you want to make your own enclosures, I have been having good luck with a mesh from BioQuip the last two years. Their part # is 7250B. My wife has been using it to make rearing sleeves for me since I cannot buy pre-made green mesh rearing sleeves anymore. Part # 7250A is a white mesh, if that is your preference.

Here is a link that might be useful: Megaview Bugdorm Store

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:31AM
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