How long can you overwinter a chrysalis?

by Jessica
(Myersville, Maryland)

My daughter found a caterpillar in late November/early December. We put it in her "butterfly tent" indoors with some food. It thrived and formed a chrysalis, but after weeks and months, a butterfly did not emerge. We were disappointed and told her it probably died (not knowing what species of butterfly it was). Still, she wanted us to keep her "tent" on top of her dresser in her room. Since it didn't smell or anything, we did and kind of forgot about it. It is now late June, 6-7 months later. As I was dressing my daughter this morning, I happened to look up at the "tent" and saw a beautiful, black swallowtail butterfly! I was in shock, not believing this to be possible! We live in MD and our house doesn't get that cold....not like a refrigerator. Of course, our 4 year old daughter is ecstatic while my husband and myself are a little mystified.

Karen says:
How exciting for you and your daughter! Yes, I have had 3 Black Swallowtail chrysalis overwinter in my house in Minnesota (the caterpillars escaped in the fall and hid without me knowing). They hatched at all different times! They don't seem to have a predictable timetable. What a fun surprise :)

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