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How can you tell if a chrysalis is still viable? I've had some where the butterfly hasn't emerged even though weeks and weeks have passed.

Be patient. I’ve had butterflies emerge from chrysalises after months! Some species overwinter in chrysalis. I never give up on one unless it shrivels up, or changes in some other way that makes it plain that it’s not viable.

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We have recently had some success with the butterflies hatching out at home which were brought in from the garden. All but one! This chrysalis remains bright green but is still in it’s cocoon about 3 weeks pasted the others. The steam it is attached to is dead but we cant imagin that is the problem. We live in Brisbane where the weather is getting slightly cooler and we are concered that this butterfly will hatch in the cold or worse not at all. Can you shed any light on this matter. Thankyou.

— Katy Mills · 26 March 2011, 02:57 · #

The chrysalis certainly sounds viable. While most Monarchs emerge in a week or two, three or four weeks in chrysalis is not a matter of concern — we’ve seen them remain in chrysalis for three or four months, and sometimes ever longer! However, we understand your concern that, in your part of the world, autumn and winter are approaching, and you want to see the butterfly emerge before it gets too cold. We’ve been able to “push” butterflies to emerge before they would have normally by keeping them artificially warm, keeping them in a room that’s heated well above ambient temperature. I don’t know if this is an option for you or not. In general, butterflies shouldn’t be released into the wild unless the temperature at the time of release is at or above 60oF.

Butterflies don’t all progress on a predefined timetable. Among caterpillars that hatch at the same time, some will eat more and grow twice or more as fast as others. Some will pupate at half the size of others. Once in chrysalis, some will emerge in a few days, while others will take weeks or months. Just yesterday we had a Gold-Rim Swallowtail emerge having been in chrysalis for at least six or eight months. Visitors often ask us “how long does this-or-that stage last,” and the only answer is, “It depends.”

Good for you for taking care of your gardens and your butterflies! Don’t worry too much about your late-blooming chrysalis. And let us know what happens.

P.S. We tried to reply to you by e-mail, but the address you left with your original post “bounced back” as non-existent.

Judi and Greg · 31 March 2011, 11:46 · #

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