Any way to encourage eclosure?

alex928 Z8/LAAugust 9, 2014

I have a BST that has been a chrysalis for a little over a month now, and I'm wondering more and more if he's going to overwinter. Problem is, I would really prefer that he not. Would putting him outside help? He's currently in a room that isn't air-conditioned, but maybe some extra heat would encourage eclosure. I'm afraid he might get eaten, though, if I do that. I could possibly put him in the shed, but it would be dark in there most of the time, and maybe he would need light?

This post was edited by alex928 on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 16:51

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Unfortunately, I don't think there is any way to change their mind, if they are programmed to stay in their chrysalis all winter. We need some of them to choose that path, or we wouldn't have swallowtails to look forward to next spring. I know your frustration, though. I would find a large clear plastic container and cut out the top and replace it with tulle. You can find that fabric at any fabric store for $1-2 per yard. Put drainage holes in the bottom and put the chrysalis inside. Find a protected spot outdoors and put the chrysalis there and wait. You may want to place it sideways to keep snow from filling it during the winter. You could also just tie the chrysalis to a branch or fence out in the open, but it might get eaten then. Good luck.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:29PM
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Kristy Asao

If I were you, I would not allow any caterpillars to get eyed by any predators.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 7:15PM
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alex928 Z8/LA

Well, normally I'd be less concerned about overwintering, but I might be moving out of state next spring, and I'm not sure what I'd do if he didn't eclose by then. It likely won't be till later in the spring though, and the swallowtails typically start showing up here around March and April, which I guess must be the overwintering crop, so I'm hoping he will decide to come out then. If not, it could be more of a problem.

I think he's going to have to go outside eventually, because the room he's in does have a heater, which is going to be used when it gets colder, so he's going to have to be moved eventually. I'm a bit worried about overwintering him here in the deep south, because while it does get cold here, it can also get quite warm from time to time. I'm sure others have managed though! :) Plus I've never seen any butterflies here during the winter months except for the occasional sulphur, so maybe it's not as big a problem as I fear.

My container-making skills are extremely limited, but I'll see what I can do. I've been looking at some online too.

This post was edited by alex928 on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 21:00

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:53PM
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If you do decide to overwinter it, keep it mind that you can't forget about it and need to be able to check it daily. If it ecloses and you aren't there to release, then you'd feel really bad.

I overwinter mine in the garage which does get some natural light and we have the door open a lot of time during the day, so hopefully they stay synched up with length of daylight. Whenever we travel we have to tell the dog sitter to check them every day in case they need to be released.

So while putting them back outside is a little scary in terms of them getting eaten, it's definitely something to consider.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:11AM
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I would put him outside. I had a 2 bst from April that just eclosed after 3 months. I put mine that are on sticks in pots on my patio. Or if in a butterfly cage I put the whole cage outside and leave the flap open so if they emerge that can get out without me being there. I'm in allen texas and we did get 3 ice storms this year and they survived through it and emerged in spring.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:52AM
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alex928 Z8/LA

I finally got a container for the little guy, which turned out to be a lot bigger than I expected, about the size of my pop-up hamper (and looks a lot like one too!). :) But at least he'll have plenty of room to flutter around if he can't be released right away. I'll put him outside later today or tomorrow. I still hope he comes out soon. Down here we have butterflies well into the fall, so he's still got time.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:09PM
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alex928 Z8/LA

Sorry for the double post, but I think things may have taken a bad turn here, and I'm hoping I'm wrong about that. I just noticed a little while ago that the chrysalis is looking sort of different...a bit, well, saggier, I guess, and the spaces between the abdominal segments have turned lighter (this is a brown chrysalis). I'm thinking he might be dead, but I'm not disposing of him yet until I know for sure.

Updated: Hmmm...well, I just checked on the chrysalis again and he looks normal again, so I don't know...maybe it's not as bad as I think. Basically I don't know what the heck is going on, so I'll just keep an eye on it. I guess it's good that I decided not to destroy it immediately. :)

This post was edited by alex928 on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 17:39

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Don't destroy it in any case. Just put it outside. If you can pin through the silk and hang it would be ideal. The idea is not just to put on the ground where it is easy to find or might get too wet. Even if it doesn't make it , it will be food for another creature. They live on there own in the cold without us so don't worry about putting it outside.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 6:02PM
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