a concern with my cats

greylady_gardenerJuly 28, 2014

last week I brought in some monarch cats that I had come across on my milkweed....thought I had three and an egg, but found another one so four cats and one egg....the largest one formed a chrysalis a few days after coming inside and two more started to begin the process last night (by making their 'hanging' web and starting to curl and hang a bit)....fully expected to see chrysalis this morning but they are still just hanging there and nothing is happening. are they okay? they seemed fine all along as they were active and eating and pooping lots.
they have been like this for about 12 hours.

ETA: the egg did hatch yesterday and it seems fine so far. :)

This post was edited by greylady-gardener on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 12:06

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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

If they are hanging in a "J," then I would not be worried.

If they are hanging straight down, your caterpillars are probably dying and there is nothing you can do to help them.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:15PM
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well that is sad. A short time ago, one of them started to pupate....it seemed to go extremely quickly....I looked and and it was still not forming and about five minutes later looked again and it was all green but not fully formed ...still bright green and wrinkled..I thought that it would dry up and smooth out like the first one and look normal, but now, about an hour later, the top part has turned the normal green and the bottom part is still bright green and there seems to be an open part as if it has torn. I will try and take a pic if I can do it carefully because I don't want to disturb it in any way in case it just needs time and to be left alone for a bit more.

the other one is still just hanging there and alternates from a curled 'J' to hanging out a bit straighter. :(

on a brighter note....in the time since I last posted, the other one has pupated and looks great so far.

This post was edited by greylady-gardener on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 14:48

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:30PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

That is a weird looking chrysalis. Don't know that I've ever seen one like that. I doubt any form of monarch will emerge from it but I'd keep it around unless it turned a bad shade of brown/black.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 4:36PM
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I will keep it and keep an eye on it....just in case, but not expecting anything .....sad though. :(

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:03PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Sorry about your cats Greylady. I will sometimes bring the larger cats inside, but seem to have the most success raising Monarchs when I collect them as eggs. I wonder if the older larvae has a more difficult time adapting to an indoor container.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:21PM
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That is weird, I've never seen that before either. Keep us posted on what happens. It is crazy how sad we feel when something goes wrong with them. This is the first year I purchased monarch cats since none have shown up the past two summers. I received 16 eggs on a small tropical milkweed plant. All of them hatched an did fine until a few days after I had to move them to containers and switch them to my butterfly weed. They were eating it fine but one day 2 of them died (one was black) and then a day or 2 later another one died. They were much smaller than the others. Then just yesterday one died the day after it molted (late stage instar). It never turned around to eat its skin and eventually was laying on its side. I couldn't figure out what happened. I never had a single one die in the 2 years I collected them from outside, so it was a little hard to see that happen. On the other hand it is very exciting to see the one in a chrysalis and several others getting ready. Can't wait to see them as beautiful butterflies!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:28PM
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@terrene, thanks. I was concerned as I had only brought eggs in before, also, so when they seemed to do okay with eating and acting normally, I thought that all was okay.

@Catgirl18, I was sad to see this happen (but I get a little sad when they form their chrysalis) All was going well until last night when he started to hang.....took forever...over twelve hours of hanging there doing nothing.
sorry to hear about your three dying

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 9:15PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Greylady, I would say about 50% or so of large cats I've collected do well, 50% seem to have problems. Not sure why, but sometimes I just leave them out in the garden because I figure if they've made it to 4th or 5th instar outside, they have a good chance of making it to an adult butterfly outside too. At least a better chance than an egg or small larvae because they can move around and they have gotten too big for smaller predators such as lady bugs or ants (wasps can still get them I think though).

Catgirl, sorry to hear about your larvae too! What size were the cats when you switched host plant? I've found the older they are the more adaptable they are to a switch in food. By butterfly weed do you mean Asclepias tuberosa? If so I think this milkweed is less preferred by Monarchs because of the low water and glycoside content and tougher leaves.

Is it possible there was some pesticide on the plant? Overspray from a neighbor?

This post was edited by terrene on Tue, Jul 29, 14 at 19:13

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:11PM
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Terrene, the cats were about 5 days old when I switched them from the tropical milkweed plant they came on to the Asclepius tuberosa (yes, that is what I meant by butterfly weed). I was careful to give them only the very new soft tips, which they seemed to love. Only those 4 out of 16 died early on. So I'm not sure if it was the switch in plants or not. There is definitely not pesticide on the plants (I only have two neighbors and they definitely don't spray-or pull any weeds for that matter :). I never had any die though in the two years I collected off of the Asclepius tuberosa, but they of course where much bigger then this years started from eggs. As sad as it is when some are lost, I am now very much enjoying watching them now turn into chrysalis. There is one climbing to the lid right now and another that just finished turning. So cool!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 9:04PM
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