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why isn't my spicebush caterpillar becoming a chrysalis?

Posted by mocknbird MoCo, MD (6B) (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 7, 10 at 11:03

I brought in a spicebush caterpillar I found on a spicebush leaf that had fallen from the tree. It is November, and in my area, most spicebushes have lost all leaves and we have had a few frosts. I figured it would turn into a chrysalis in a couple days, based on the time of season. I have kept it outside with natural temp. and light, and have misted it every so often. It has been at least 4 days, and no change. Anyone have any advice? I have another chrysalis I am overwintering(outside so it won't change pre-season), so I'd like to keep this one too. Also, our spicebush trees have had a good bunch of caterpillars, but never any hanging chrysalis. Are the caterpillars getting eaten, or do they sometimes form a chrysalis that stays on the ground with the other fallen leaves?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: why isn't my spicebush caterpillar becoming a chrysalis?

Normally, they leave the spicebush to make their pupae (chrysalis).

If you are getting 30/40 degree nights and 50/60 degree days that is another reason the caterpillar isn't pupating--it's too cold.

They can also eat Sweet Bay. I think it still has its leaves. I'd find some Sweet Bay and bring the caterpillar inside so it can finish its pupation. As soon as it pupates and hardens, I'd take it back outside.

Another possible reason for it not to pupate is it could have a parasite or disease.

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