imperial moth crysalis

Asked September 21, 2016, 3:11 PM EDT

we found a imperial moth catapiler the other day. We put it in a container and brought inside. The container only has grass in it. The catapiler has made a chrysalis and I need to know if I need to do anything else to it so it makes it into a moth. Do I need to put it outside, leave inside, put it in something else? Just wondering so we can make sure it makes it into a moth. Thank you.

Polk County Iowa moths caterpillars

3 Responses

Thanks for your question. It sounds like the caterpillar has already made a pupa (the equivalent to a butterfly chrysalis). From this point on, it will not eat any more, so no food is necessary.

If it remains in a container, the main concern is that it has enough room once it emerges from the pupal case. I've never seen an Imperial Moth, but from information online, their wingspan can be up to 174 mm, which translates to about 7" (inches). Females are apparently larger than males, but you would need at least that much space for the moth. People usually put larger moths and butterflies in screened cages, because they need so much room.

You probably should get a cage from a pet store, and carefully relocate it to that. Otherwise, you will probably need to put it outdoors, again being very careful not to damage the developing insect.

Since it has made a pupa how long will it be like that before it turns into a monyh?

For this type of moth, there usually is only one "brood" a year. So the life cycle is long. It maybe be many months before the moth emerges. They usually burrow into the soil and "overwinter" through the cooler months, then wait for temperatures to warm in the spring or early summer.

Since yours is inside, and probably not in soil, its exposure to temperatures and normal conditions will not be present. It may be fine, and might emerge earlier than normal, but it could be a number of months of waiting. Again, there needs to be enough room for it as an adult. You might carefully spread some soil around it too. That may provide needed insulation, temperature-wise and moisture-wise.

Of course, you could delicately bury it under an inch or two of loose soil outside, to get it back to its normal conditions.