The Unhatched Pupa – No Monarch for Us

Monarch Butterfly Pupa

Our unhatched pupa. A monarch butterfly did not emerge.

It’s time to admit that we have not successfully raised a monarch butterfly. Our pupa looks inactive despite our best efforts in supplying the caterpillar with milkweed. As mentioned in a previous post, Raising Monarchs, everything seemed to be going according to schedule. The caterpillar was active and hungry, making holes and cutout patterns in the milkweed leaves. At the appropriate time he crawled up to the top of his nursery and rapidly formed into a light green pupa. After the pupa turned dark, we waited days and days for it to become transparent so we could glimpse the metamorphosis that was taking place. In my mind, I planned to videotape the butterfly’s release into the butterfly bush in our yard. We waited and waited, but nothing happened. We moved the pupa to a different location thinking a sunnier environment would help. Still nothing happened. It’s been 17 days since our caterpillar formed his chrysalis, but a monarch butterfly has not emerged. I can’t yet bring myself to discard the pupa (maybe it’s a “late bloomer”), but it is starting to smell a bit.

Of course, that is the way things are in this life. Things go awry despite our best efforts. When I was 11 years old, I got a light blue parakeet and named her Charlotte. I learned how to properly feed and care for her. She would fly around my bedroom and perch in surprising places. Less than two weeks later, I woke up and the parakeet was on the bottom of the cage — in a horizontal position. Parakeets do not sleep like that! Immediately, I thought I did something wrong and felt so guilty. Another life lesson was learned. Like the parakeet, our pupa did not have the outcome we hoped for, but attempting to raise a monarch was a worthwhile experience. Next year, we’ll try again to nurture a caterpillar into a monarch butterfly. Your comments are always welcome.


4 responses to “The Unhatched Pupa – No Monarch for Us

  1. What a cool thing to do. I have always wanted to try this. Sorry it didn’t work out this time 😦

  2. Thanks! At least we’ve gotten to see some monarchs this year on our butterfly bush.

  3. Last year we found and raised over 50 of them. This year we struggled to find 20. We gave up on the eggs and just go caterpillar hunting.
    There are always a few that don’t emerge.
    We had one that forgot to tuck it’s head in at the last stage of pupa forming. That one didn’t work.

  4. We didn’t have any luck with our eggs either (well we only had two). I recently saw pictures of caterpillars with an X pattern because they were missing a body segment but I never heard of one that left it’s head exposed! Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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