Black on Monarch chrysalis.

tiffy_z5_6_can(5/6)August 17, 2008

I have 13 chrysalis in one container and two of them have some black right at the base. These were formed there when the chrysalis was formed and did not develope afterwards. Just looks like a black drop right on the bottom. I figure all is well since the rest of the chrysalis is in fine form with it's gold threading and all. Am I right about not being concerned?

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Could it possibly be the head capsule of the caterpillar? This would be the final molt...

Look carefully and see if you can see the filaments from the caterpillar's head on the black blob. I would bet this is what those blobs are. :)

Here's a picture of the head capsule from a Gulf Fritillary.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:12PM
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No, that's not it, although I do have a lot of those 'scrunchies'. :O)

I managed to take photos to show you. A bit blurry as it's hard to hold the top of the containers and shoot the camera at the same time.

First one.

Second one.

The above chrysalis are about 5 days old now.

I also had a caterpillar start forming it's chrysalis today and it never finished. Poor thing was in a J and now is just hanging there with some green from the chrysalis around it's head, but the rest of him is still a caterpillar. Do you know what would cause this? Don't want to take a photo of that one since there are four others around him that are in J formation and I don't want to disturb them.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 3:54PM
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Uh oh...looks to me like OE. I would IMMEDIATELY remove the affected pupae. Do so very CAREFULLY, without touching any of the others, then sanitize your hands and if possible, the areas around the others.

Have you ever read through my Monarch blog? I go into some detail on OE. Here's a link about OE. There's another about detecting it without a microscope on my blog.

tdogmom's Monarch page ref to OE

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 5:05PM
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Oh crap, I had a chrysalid that had black spots on it. It had eclosed "normally", no problems, but now I'm worried that I may have released an infected butterfly. I normally take pics of my releases, but don't think I took one with the black spotted chrysalid, and of course I don't remember the sex. Odds are it was a female though (4F/2M). I am having a bout of dying caterpillars though. The 7 I gave my boss aren't fairing too well. 2 died over the weekend that she watched them, and it appears that one more has died; it's darkened and not moving. I have one at home in my cage as well that's darkened, but moving & eating, so I'm kind of worried now. All this before I go on vacation again (Sat-Sat). This sucks :(

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 10:04AM
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Sorry to hear that Tracey. I know how you feel about the cats not surviving. I had the same problem last year with my last bunch. Six were involved and I decided to euthanize them. This year has been quite successful so far.

Thanks for the info. I'll be taking care of the black spotted ones today as well as the one which did not form it's chrysalis properly. I still had 4 cats in one containers which I removed yesterday into another container which I cleaned thoroughly. They are doing fine and one has already formed it's chrysalis, two are in Js, and the other - one which we found on the sneaker of my DD's friend's shoe on Saturday inside the house ?! - is still munching like there's no tomorrow. :O)

I appreciate the info and will keep an eye on them when the rest when they eclose. Thanks again for the info. I hope all remaining 22 will be fine.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 10:20AM
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I'm pretty much a lurker around this forum, but I have a curious question?

How exactly do you euthanize a cat? Or do I want to know?


    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 10:59AM
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I followed the advice of the pros here by putting the cat in a plastic baggie and putting in the freezer. I haven't the heart to step on it and smoosh it, even though that would probably be the fastest, most painless way to go...

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 1:48PM
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Ugh, I just had to put down another; very dark, curled up on the soil, blob of black in the center of it, maybe oozing. I have 3 other monarch cats still in the cage (on a different milkweed) along with 4 BST cats on parsley. At least the 2 monarch chrysalids don't have any black spots. I did just destroy that potted milkweed (curassavica) that the ill cat was on. I'm just hoping that having them comingle together won't come back and bite me...

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Oh Tracey! I don't know if it was necessary to destroy the potted plant...

Sometimes, if the larvae are all black and smooshy (for lack of a better word), chances are it has a viral or bacterial infection of sorts and NOT OE. Then, it can spread its infection (like us) through its secretions, mainly, its scree (through its poop). In this case, then cleaning the areas the larva traveled will be key.

So sorry to hear about the rampant disease. It is interesting. I know that I tend to have more disease when the temperatures are high. Has it been unusually warm in New Jersey? Just curious.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:34PM
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mechelle_m(z9 TX)

If you are worried that the milkweed is infected, just cut it back to the ground and the new growth will be fine. The main thing to remember about monarch cats is they are more susceptible to viruses and OE than any other butterfly, or in my experience anyway.

Be sure to disinfect your cage after all the chrysalids have eclosed and before any new cats are introduced into the cage. I disinfect with 2 T bleach in about a gallon of water. I let my cages soak for about 10 minutes on all sides (my sink isn't big enough to totally submerge them all at once) and then rinse really, really well. If at all possible, I let them dry in the sun as the sun dissipates the chlorine.

I also disinfect my feeding vases (small glass vases from WalMart) after about 2 days of using them in the cage as food holders. My cages are plastic containers (bought with animal crackers inside from Sams and about 1-1/2 gallons in size) that I cut holes in for ventilation and covered with screen. I attach the screen with silicone (bathroom caulk) so I don't have to worry about the glue "melting" when I disinfect the cage.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:46AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

I'm so sorry you guys are having these bad turns with some of your Monarchs. I'm so upset for you. I know it's part of the natural world but I don't have to like it.

This is scaring me as I've got 9 Monarchs at various stages in the house at the moment.

One formed chrysalis 8/12. When I first read this post I ran over to his container to examine him with flashlight. Saw what I thought was very small brown spot on side towards bottom. Was worried but told myself I'd just watch it for day or two and take note of any spread or tell tale chrysalis seepage. I was dreading the freezer routine.

When I was showing him off to a visitor yesterday the "brown spot" was gone and almost looked like it had turned into one of the little "jewel" spots on Monarch chrysalides. I can see stained glass outline of wings through chrysalis. Absolutely amazing.

I'll still watch each of eclosing Monarchs to make sure they don't have any problems I couldn't see while cats. I look them over with magnifying glass trying to make sure color lines are clean and no spots present. They're probably wishing I'd just leave them the heck alone...LOL.

Luckily, I'm just raising 8 in house so not overwhelmed with masses to deal with.

Again, so sorry for losses you're having.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:08PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Tdogmom, forgot to let you know what NJ weather's been like.

It started going down to 60s at night (57 degrees @ 5AM this morning) with 80s-90s during the day in past couple weeks.

End of Summer weather fluctuations and sunlight decrease seem to have started early this year. Maybe it's just people here who hate to see sunlight later and temps go lower all of a sudden.

Don't know if or how day/night temperature fluctuations effect cats in controlled environments. Ones still on milkweed garden plants seem to be okay.

It's also been pretty humid but has changed to drier weather so far today with temps in 70s.

I'm down in central NJ closer to coast. Tracey, if I remember correctly you're up north in Jersey in more mountainous area so you might not have had same weather as we've had down here.

Forecast here in 80s daytime for next 7 days with temps still dropping at night.

I gather from posts a lot of people raise Monarchs in outdoor enclosures so they're exposed to outdoor temperatures if not to precipitation. Speaking of precipitation we had heavy rain storms a couple times in past couple weeks. Maybe that extra humidity had some effect on development of bacteria and/or spores of some kind.

Lot more than you wanted to know about NJ weather, I guess, tdogmom!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:42PM
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I wish I had mountains. Near Teaneck, if that helps; very close to the George Washington Bridge, jumping on Rt4 would get me there in about 10 minutes.
Was it friggin cold this morning; sad to be complaining about temps in the 60's!
The milkweed I destroyed was only a curassavica, an annual, and not enough growing season left to produce much regrowth.

I gave my boss 7 cats last Thursday. One went chrysalid (oh, and fell from the tulle, which I have since glued), leaving 6. Well, 3 had died over the weekend and we just flushed another no lifer. I don't know what the heck is going on, but it's NOT good. I found 2 more cats, 2nd or 3rd instar, but I think I'm just going to put them in my butterfly cage and wing it, since my boss isn't having any luck...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 3:09PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I am really enjoying this Monarch raising experience, but as a newbie, I feel like I've been bumbling my way through. This forum is really helping to figure out what's going on, but you have to learn it firsthand. I've collected numerous eggs and a few little cats, but so far it seems like only about half make it.

When they're really little, some seem to "disappear". Maybe I didn't see them and threw them out accidentally with the old milkweed leaves. I found 2 little 1st instar cats crawling up the side of the container this morning, and you could barely see the little buggers! Another larger cat looked very funny, with blackish streaks and much smaller than its siblings, so I took it outside and put it on the A incarnata. A couple have died, one turned fuzzy green and another one black.
As of today -

5 in chrysalides, no black on them thank goodness!
1 very close to pupating
3 4th instar
5 3rd instar
1 2nd instar
2 1st instar
6 eggs collected yesterday off of the Asclepias syriaca!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Moisture is one of those culprits. Add heat and you've got major problems. I think this is one of those things I mention on my blog. Monarchs are SO susceptible to 'issues' it truly amazes me that they even make it in the wild!

Thanks for the weather update. I would bet that your weather has had something to do with your problems.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 6:09PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Tracey, I lived up in Fort Lee for a year. Had clients in Teaneck. You're've got highways and bridges with just little hills instead of mountains around places like Ridgefield Park...LOL. What a hectic area. Worked in building overlooking Rt. 80.

Another 57 degrees this morning...worried about 3 cats still outside on milkweed plants in garden since was told 55 degrees is about limit on the low temp side for cats.

The chrysalis that formed 8/12 was going great until I got up this morning. It's fully formed and visible in the chrysalis BUT THE CHRYSALIS IS BLACK.

One eclosed outside in the butterfly garden late yesterday afternoon and spent the night on milkweed leaf after crawling over number of leaves. She seems fine this morning and warming up so she can flutter off. Her chrysalis was absolutely clear.

Don't have good feeling about black chrysalis inside. Will have to see if it withers/falls or watch for signs of infection if it ecloses.

Not looking forward to my first "freezer burn" even though I realize it's the correct thing to do to protect the species.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 8:46AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Scratch that worry about black chrysalis for the moment.

He/she eclosed while I was outside watering.

Now I've got her outside in warm air letting him/her dry out and spread those wings so I can see if it's male or female.

Got magnifying glass to make sure no signs of virus like OE.

I'm gonna make myself crazy over these cats/butterflies!

Neighbors must wonder what I'm doing sitting in chair with my back to street just staring at front porch...LOL.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:10AM
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Hey, when you do this long enough, the neighbors get used to it! :) Mine are used to me talking to the butterflies, seeing me in my jammies, and even spotting a 'roving light' at midnight as I go to get leaves for the hungry ones. They will also appreciate the beautiful butterflies so don't worry about your odd behaviour. Truly. We can ALL relate!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:54AM
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I moved one of the chrysalis into an old glass coffee pot. :O) I used a pair of tweezer to gently pull the web off the top of the container and then I taped the web to the top of the pot. I placed it in a different room away from the others.

She has just eclosed. I am giving her some time to 'develope' and later on will check the tail. When I first saw it, it seemed to have a lot of white, but it wasn't mottled in colour - good black and good white.

Hoping for the best. :O) And again, thank-you for the great knowledge and pictures. (Your info has been favouratized.) You are most certainly a wealth of info. Truly appreciate it!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 9:18AM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Tdogmom...when the Monarchs get to last instar they eat like there's no if you didn't know!

Around 7 or 8 PM I bring in a big handful of leaves and think it will hold them til morning.

Luckily I wake up a couple times during the night so I find them just sitting on the sticks waiting for "more, please"...LOL.

So I turn on the back porch lights and traipse out there with the flashlight, pick more leaves, wash them and put them in cleaned out container.

Some nights I'm smarter or just in better "memory state" and keep a stalk in water in fridge so I don't have to make the night run to the garden but never seem to have enough for the big guys...and the little ones seem to zoom in milkweed consumption after 4th instar.

If I had more than the 9 Monarchs I'd raise them differently with a potted plant so they'd have more room to roam and be in a more natural setting. Didn't want to take the chance with these 9 since they were all different sizes and worried about cannibalization so kept them segregated.

Geez...sounds like I'm running a boot camp for delinquent Monarch cats...LOL.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 11:38AM
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