Why can't I find a monarch butterfly chrysalis?

Asked September 19, 2018, 12:03 PM EDT

Because I broke my lawnmower and it rained a lot, some milkweed shoots came up through my lawn. When I saw this caterpillar had eaten the entire milkweed shoot, I moved it a mature milkweed plant in my flower bed. It ate and ate, then disappeared before the remnant of Hurricane Florence came through. Same for two more caterpillars, one very small with a poor appetite. See image named MonarchCaterpillar.jpg.

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

It is interesting that you should ask as we were having this conversation amongst ourselves the other day.
Even people who have dedicated 'butterfly gardens' and grow more than one type of milkweed rarely see where the caterpillars crawl off to and make their chrysalis.
It likely isn't far, and is on the protected underside of other plants, limbs or structures.
Recently we found one on the underside of the rim of the back of a plastic chair.
The caterpillar in your photo looks like it's about big and plump enough to disappear soon and return as a beautiful butterfly.
When you see one that big it can be fun to put it in a well-ventilated cage and keep it fed with milkweed until it hangs in a 'j' shape from stems or branches or the lid and makes its green chrysalis dotted with gold. It will hatch out within a week or so if done early enough in the season and can be released onto a flower after it has had time to pump up its wings.