Dying caterpillars and good chrysalis

by Sandy Haithcock
(Ypsilanti, MI)

I had 6 caterpillars of various sizes. One is now a chrysalis, one went to the J, and started the chrysalis, but half way up stopped, and all of the others are just hanging and appear to be dying. If it was some sort of bacteria that infected them, is the one chrysalis safe? Also, what will happen to the half chrysalis,,,,is it dead, or will it turn to some kind of mutant butterfly??

Thanks,
Sandy

Karen says:
Sandy, it sounds like it could be some kind of monarch disease with that many affected. Check out this link on monarch butterfly diseases. There is a good chance that the chrysalis you do have might be affected. You will just have to wait and see.

Be sure and sterilize with a 20% bleach solution any equipment, cages, etc. that you might use in the future to raise butterflies. I hope this helps.

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Dying caterpillars and good chrysalis

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Dying caterpillars
by: Anonymous

I ordered 6 Painted Lady Butterflies and 2 died while molting their skin, 2 died while making their cocoons, 1 died in it's cocoon(but you could see the butterfly inside),and ONLY 1 butterfly successfully made it's cocoon and is now healthy and alive. So I don't know what happened either. I need some advice. Does anybody that reads this have any advice that could help me figure out what to do with this 1 butterfly or why you think the others could have died?

Karen says:
It sounds like your butterflies possibly had some kind of virus. You might want to contact who you ordered them from and tell them. I would release the healthy butterfly, unless for some reason you think it also might be infected. Make sure and sterilize any equipment you used to raise the butterflies with 20% bleach solution before using again.

Dying Caterpillars
by: Teresa

Last summer some of the caterpillars I had were doing the same thing-appearing dehydrated and then dying. I happened to notice that on the same rue plant, I kept seeing a stink bug (mine looked like the arboreal stink bug or a brown stink bug). I later learned that stink bugs kill caterpillars by drinking the fluid from them. It all made sense then. This year I will be extremely careful with my outdoor cats and make sure the plants they are on stay bug free.

Dying caterpillars
by: Anonymous

A few of my caterpillars died recently & I'm not sure why. Several were big and seemed ready to form a J but after being still for several hours they started to shrink, almost like they were dehydrated & some of the Chrysalis dried up & never completed transformation.These were caterpillars that I was watching outside in my yard. I wondered if it was because it's late in the season or if they had some kind of virus. Good luck figuring it out.

Karen says:
It sounds like a virus or parasite such as Ophryocystis elektroscirrha which only affects monarch butterflies. Make sure and sterilize any cages or items that you might use again to raise butterflies with 20% bleach solution. OE can be spread on the milkweed that the monarchs are eating also.

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