What stage is this?

catherinet(5 IN)July 9, 2014

I don't raise butterflies indoors. I have alot of milkweed on my property, but I don't get to see some things up close very often. So I'm sort of ignorant of the different instars, etc.

I've been watching this monarch cat for a couple days. Today it looked like this. Can you tell me anything about it? I hope it's not dead.

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catherinet(5 IN)

The more images I look at online, makes me think something has killed it? (a parasite?) I took this pic around 11a.m. I went back out around 7p.m., and it was gone. Can shedding the skin and then eating eat, then moving away happen within 8 hours?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:30PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

It looks dead to me, Catherine - sorry. Its body probably fell on the ground.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:13PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Darnit. :(

I wonder if this is common in the wild?

Thanks Sherry.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 6:08AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Caterpillars in the wild die more than 90% of the time. They succumb to predators, disease, starvation, weather extremes and all kinds of other challenges. That is why many of us enjoy bringing the eggs or caterpillars inside to raise where they are protected from most of the dangers. This increases their chances of living to adulthood dramatically, and allows them a chance to mate and lay more eggs. Simply providing sources of nectar and host plants in our gardens can also help tremendously, but they will have frequent run-ins with predators, etc.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:02PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Sadly this also happened to the first monarch cat I found and brought in this year. It was already a 2nd or 3rd instar and when it appeared to be preparing to molt it was still for over a day and then finally looked just like this before falling off the leaf and turning to goo. Thankfully today I found 20 eggs to bring in and raise. Last year I didn't get to raise any.

I don't have nearly as much success raising found caterpillars as found eggs. Many cats seem to be already infected with something before I bring them in. I also have never found a butterfly chrysalis outside. Granted they are well camouflaged, but I have still never found one. I have found quite a few buried pupae that were probably moths while digging in soil though. They are probably more protected from predators down there.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 10:14PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

Sorry catherinet, I have a friend that loves to watch them. I set up a container for her with a potted plant. She just sent me a picture of two of the three eggs that I gave her. Now they are chrysalis. Even in a container, not all the Monarchs live.

If you decide you want to give it a try, I have posted "Monarch Rearing Tips" below. Don't bother trying to log on to the Monarch Watch Forum. You will get better info here.

Take care and happy butterflying.

The caterpillar looks to be second to third instar. It is probably dead and it could be a predator or disease. That is part of the natural world. Only about 10% of the eggs laid will make it to adult.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monarch Rearing Tips

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 10:19PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks everyone.
I tend to let nature do its thing without me. But I've been wondering.......do you think raising butterflies indoors does anything to them that would make living in the "real world" more difficult?
I feel that nature is much smarter than me and knows how to keep things balanced. But..........mankind has sure upset that balance.
I live in the middle of farmland. I sure hope that doesn't put all the butterflies at risk. Fortunately, my immediate neighbor farmer is trying to do more natural farming.

Our 35 acres has really become a jungle.......and I love it! Many of the animals/birds/insects are doing great. But the butterflies have been dwindling. I think its like the canaries in the mines. :(
Hopefully, its just the ebb and flow of how nature works.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 6:24AM
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