How to Raise a Monarch Butterfly
Part V of V

I warned you before that if you didn’t read the previous posts to this series you might get pregnant or warts.

I would like to apologize for this.  You will not get pregnant nor grow warts if you don’t read the previous posts on How to Raise  a Monarch Butterfly.

I don’t think.  In a world where eggs become caterpillars, caterpillars become blobs of goo and goo becomes a butterfly, who can be sure?  I’m fairly confident you could get a rash at the very least.  So read the previous posts 1, II, III and IV.
How to Raise a Monarch Butterfly Part 5

Very little happens in the 10 days the Monarch is in its chrysalis stage.  Nothing in fact.



And then on Day 9 …


On the evening of the 9th day your chrysalis will start to turn clear. You’ll be able to look right through the chrysalis at the butterfly inside.




By the next morning your chrysalis will be completely see through. Between 9 and noon your butterfly will emerge. I have no idea why that’s the case, but every single time I’ve done this the butterfly always emerges between 9 and noon.  (the butterfly can take anywhere from 10-14 days to emerge … mine have always been on day 10)


And it will look a little something like this …













Once the butterfly has emerged it will rest for a few hours. It will pump blood into its wings by opening and closing them. As soon as it’s starting to act restless (usually after 2-3 hours) you can take it outside. Just bring the bowl outside, stick your finger or a stick into it and let the butterfly climb on. Rest it on a flower or leaf or branch.

It may rest a tiny bit more before flying away forever.

You will be sad.  And you will be happy.

The Butterfly Effect.

(def) the phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. It is the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere which may ultimately change the path of your life.

A butterfly can theoretically, with one small movement, alter the course of the universe forever.

Right now you’re probably thinking how extraordinary it is that a butterfly has the power to create change in the world.

Even more extraordinary is the fact that you have the power to create a butterfly.



  1. Claudia says:

    Thanks for the series. I harvested eggs today!! Exciting!!

  2. Mike Clark says:

    Thanks for an amazing series. I want to try this at home.

  3. Kerry Fastenau says:

    I have been raising monarchs for six years. On a walk in a preserve behind my house I saw a monarch hovering about milkweed. I knew that was where they laid their eggs and when i upturned the leaf, I found a tiny egg. Year one I raised just the one. But I took a small milkweed plant with me so I could plant it and attract the monarchs to my own garden.
    Now, in the sixth year, I have a generous patch of milkweed and always attract some monarchs. This year has proven to be the best yet. To date I have released 16, and have a five butterflies ready to fly tomorrow morning, six more formed chrysalides, five more in “j” formation and about 20 in various instars awaiting their time to shine! :0) Last year I raised 7 but they were the last generation who fly down to Mexico and begin the next generation in the spring.
    I do not like to handle them, and I take them inside to help them have the best chance at survival. I lost two caterpillars to tachinid fly parasitization, they were 2nd instars that I found on plants. It was a sad sight to witness. I raised most from eggs, the larvae is incredibly small and so easy to damage. It can be nerve wracking. But, with each one a potential butterfly, it is worth it.
    I have had the luck of sharing this with a neighborhood kid who is really a nature buff even at the age of 11. I am going to give him a 3 instar cat to raise so he can observe how wonderful the process is.
    I did not mention that it was almost a year after my mom died that I found that first egg. Every season, I feel close to my mom as I go through the process. And once, a monarch flew in my driver’s side window and out the passenger side!

  4. Anna says:

    Love this post! We raised a purchased monarch this spring. Our milkweed here in north TX was looking a bit sad, but we SAW a female monarch laying eggs. We collected about 5, but only three hatched. Several outside hatched sooner and grew faster. (Warmer outside, for sure.) We brought in three cats. One died. Only one of our house hatched ones has survived. We have 5 big fat cats outside, two inside, and our little guy. I wish we had a set up to bring them all inside!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Anna! You’re lucky the monarchs grow outside! Around here they’re gone almost as soon as the eggs are laid from earwigs eating them. That’s why I started raising them inside years ago. This year I couldn’t find a single egg. Have fun with yours. The *most* fun part of all of it is putting them on your hand and letting them go outside. ~ karen!

  5. nanabobana says:

    Ah, found it! Black Eastern Swallowtail! Now to find some queen anne’s lace, I only have 2 tiny plants of cilantro and they are almost done with them! I know they aren’t endangered so I won’t bring them in, I need to move them out to the back forty (beyond the fence with the espaliered grapes!) 🙂

    • Karen says:

      You answered before I could, lol. Yes. It’s a swallowtail which are much easier to find than a Monarch. They also seem to live more easily outside. Monarch eggs and caterpillars are almost always eaten by pests. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • nanabobana says:

        thanks, hon!!! I took them outback and put them each on their own queen anne’s lace, hope they live! 🙂

  6. nanabobana says:

    Karen, help! I found what looks like 3 monarch cats on my cilantro just now but I know they only eat milkweed, so what are these similar looking ones, do you know? Sorry for the potato quality, it started pouring rain just as I got out there with my camera!!!

  7. Jan says:

    Your photography is fantastic!
    I guess next spring I’m going to have to find some milkweed seeds!

  8. Rose says:

    Thank you for these incredible posts! The level of detail and photography…….. flawless and incredible!

  9. Elaine says:

    This was fantastic, Karen!!

    This is my first time ever viewing the caterpillar-to-butterfly process!

    Thank you SO much for the hours you spent doing this for us readers and your photographs are simply the best – you even draw in little arrows when we can’t figure out one end from another. Those gold dots (like a tiny necklace) are fascinating! I am wondering now how the heck those fragile looking wings get them all the way to Florida and approximately how long the journey takes them. I also wonder why they picked Mexico?! (Consistently hot weather, I guess.)

  10. Ardith says:

    What a beautiful story, Karen, and beautifully told. Thank you. And best wishes to all your butterfly children. Cheers, Ardith

  11. Chris says:

    I’ve been doing this the last several years, once I figured out that the milkweed vine that takes over my garden every year (WEED!) is actually food for the Monarchs (after being told by the botanical garden and the local Monarch watch group that it wasn’t). Last year I think I released 15-20. I use a mesh butterfly cage, and also a pop up mesh hamper with a zippered top. I also brought an egg to my daughter’s class and supplied them with fresh milkweed vine. The most time consuming part is that I feel compelled to take pictures of them every day….next to a ruler or a coin….because they are so cute! After camping out for hours waiting for my cats to form the chrysalis or emerge as a butterfly, I got a time lapse app for my phone and was able to get some great video.

  12. Jen says:

    We did this as kids, 40 some years ago. We would walk to the train station to meet my dad and while there we would get fresh milkweed. We didn’t really know a lot about the process, but I guess we knew enough. Doing that every day and then seeing the butterfly, well, how amazing!

  13. Lez says:

    Karen, this was simply AWESOME! National Geographic Awesome! Seriously. I now need to read up on them in South Africa, & see if I can do the same here in summer. Never heard of Milk weed, so I’ll have to do some research. Thank you for what I think was your best post ever! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Did you read the whole series, lol? Now you won’t have anything to read all week! Oh well … you can spend that time doing monarch research. 🙂 ~ karen!

  14. Nessa says:

    What amazingly beautiful photos & footage you took!!
    Over this side of the world, in NZ & Australia, our monarchs eat Swan Plants 🙂 similar, but in a different family to your Milkweed.. You can actually buy seeds to grow Swan Plants, specifically for Monarchs, & some places sell the grown plants!
    We used to have the caterpillars at school, & as a class we used to watch their chrysalis develop, the awe & amazement as an adult, is just as it was as a child!
    The hours you must have spent getting these beautiful photos…thankyou for capturing the magic! xx

  15. Joy elrod says:

    That was wonderful (liked your antidotes too!). I have raised Monarchs myself and drank a couple of gallons waiting for it to emerge as a butterfly! Anyhow, my garden club Plug: Garden Club of Fleming Island ((Florida)) are embarking on developing a Monarch fly-by at a local nursing home. I would LOVE to tell the residences, staff and guests the entire process in detail as you have. May I use parts your material? They will be so thrilled! I was thinking too of getting a fish tank to use for raising them in mass. Of course with the fine screen taped as you suggested. I realize too that they will need daily poop patrols, fresh leaves, etc so I promise to do that part, too.

  16. Jenn says:

    You might not want to depend on the 9-12 thing for eclosion. Although 5 of the 6 did eclose around 10 one came out so early that when I came down at 7:45 the wings were fully extended. I decided that driving to the school with this one would be problematic and CAREFULLY tagged and released it. Was feeling bad about it but my father saw it and took care of it – it flew away some hours later.

  17. Jenn says:

    Nice to see. I use some different techniques but will keep yours in mind… As I have been trained I have a Ministry of Natural Resources permit and was able to purchase cats (caterpillars) this year from a butterfly conservatory for my class. I was supposed to get 4 chrysalids and 6 cats and ended up with 6 chrysalids and 18 tiny cats (newborn-1st instar. Some are second now). When they get full size things are going to be interesting. I will be in a mountain of poop.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! That’s a LOT of tiny caterpillars to keep track of. The release of 18 butterflies will be amazing! And yes. A lot of poop up until then. 🙂 Good for you. It’s so much fun. And the gold dotting on the chrysalids is a m a z i n g. ~ karen!

  18. Sarah says:

    I think this is the most amazing thing I have ever read on the net. Your pictures are amazing, and it’s so inspiring. Thank you so, so much for doing this! You’ve made my year! Or life. Amazing.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks Sarah. If you think that’s the most amazing thing you’ve read on the Internet, you obviously haven’t read my post on using a frozen yogourt tampon for a yeast infection! Welcome to my site. ~ karen!

      • Tracey says:

        Karen, you are simply amazing….I just read part 1-5 on raising monarchs….wonderful and inspiring and I will definitely do this. I have two acres with tons of milkweed. But then , you mention curing a yeast infection with a yogurt tampon!? Are you serious? I guess I’ll be off now to search for that post in hopes that its real.
        Back to Monarchs. I never knew that they could be raised. I loved your photos and detailed instructions. Thank you so much for putting so much effort into these posts. I’m in rural Ottawa, and I’ve seen Monarchs this year. So I will be off to search for eggs first thing in the morning.

  19. Sandy says:

    I am so glad that I stumbled on this today, only I wish I had earlier. My daughter found 2 monarch caterpillars over the 4th of July weekend. They made their chrysalis’ (or is it chrysali) and the 2nd one just hatched yesterday. I wish I had known the timing of things so we could actually see each change. Even though we missed the actual events, it has been amazing watching the process and tomorrow I am going to check the milkweed for as egg. I think it has been the highlight of the summer for my 8 year old and our whole family!

  20. Christie says:

    The naturalist in me has to remind you :make sure your hands are freshly washed and dried, with NO lotion (or heaven forbid, bug repellant) before handling your newborn butterflies! They are very susceptible to chemicals. thanks!
    Your photos are STUNNING!!! <3

  21. Mindy says:

    Holy fuck. Sorry, but that was called for in this case. Pretty f-ing amazing I tell ya.

  22. Unbelievable. Karen, this is the best series ever!!

  23. That was amazing and your photos are just awesome. I can’t wait to share this series with my grandkids and maybe we will go take a look around our field to see if we can find some milkweed. I have a feeling that we will find some because I read an article from the Colorado State University Extension and it is common in our area and I know I have just seen some monarch butterflies around here. I never expected to learn so much about butterflies today. Thank you!

  24. Gozde says:

    Wow, i read these butterfly series in a single breath. Thanks for putting so much effort to inform your readers Karen!

  25. Teri says:

    Absolutely love this series! Thank you so much for not only the step by step instructions, but the step by step photography.

  26. Karen O. says:

    Fun fact: The act of emerging from the pupal case is called “eclosion”. It’s one of my favorite words. Thought I’d share.

    Just wondering, do you always release them right after they emerge? I remember raising painted ladies with a kit when I was a kid and we kept the butterflies for a couple days, you know, just to look at them. 😛

    • Karen says:

      Karen O. – Eclosion. Like an eco explosion. Seems about the right word to use! I always release the butterflies right away. I’ve looked at them long enough, LOL. ~ karen

  27. Ok I have decided that I am definitely doing this next year, if only to hear my two-year old daughter call the chrysalis a ‘christamis.’ Even my kids loved each and every one of your posts about the butterflys and if you can entertain a three-year old, two-year old and nine-month old then you are a genius! It was all so fascinating and I’m glad I found you! I especially appreciate that you are fluent in sarcasm. It’s always nice to find someone who speaks my language!

  28. mary c says:

    I give you my most reverent, heartfelt and respectful Buddah bow. I am awed and humbled. You are wonderful.

  29. Wonderful !! So beautiful…..there has been a huge decrease in the number of Monarchs that come to Canada, tho they were blaming pesticides in Mexico it has been found that with the amount of GMO crops planted there are not enough milkweeds in the fields anymore to feed them….sigh…Go Monsanto,what other things are up your sleeve to screw with Mother Nature……sorry for the rant but these sort of things bother me.

  30. Rhonda "SmartyPants" says:

    Well, I’m sold. Last evening as I was putting out the trash barrels for pick-up this morning, I mosied over to a part of my front yard that is overgrown with — ta-da — milkweeds(guess there is something to be said for my lazy gardener self after all) thinking let’s see what we can see. I actually held my breath as I peeked under the first plant’s leaves and wondered if the neighbors would think I was daffy. Nothing – drats. So I moved over to the next plant, after glancing surreptitiously towards the neighbors, and Eureka! My heart skipped a beat when I spotted the first egg. Moving onward, dare I hope, yes, I found another egg. (This also helped to confirm that what I saw was actually an egg or else something at least identical from one plant to another.) And then, Karen, my dear sweet dear Karen, I found two eggs on one leaf! I dashed into the open garage, snatched up a pair of scissors and quickly snipped the stalks and then carefully brought them inside to rest and stay safe in a tall vase of water.

    Later today I’ll be off to Dollarama for bowls, spatter screens, tape. Thank you for the posts. I forwarded them to my son in the hopes he will be inspired to have his two children (Violet, 5 and Cash, 3, either try their own Monarch raising or help their Meemaw with her’s.)

    The video and your incredible photographs with detailed descriptions are worth a watch or two on their own. Wish me luck as I endeavor to change the world with one, two, three or four – oh, my goodness, this is so exciting. Thank you, thank you.

  31. Pam'a says:

    Just a heads up– There are other plants (and other butterflies) that will work! My garden is swarming with swallowtails!

    Now that we’re all inspired, why should the monarchs have all the moms?? 😉

    • Karen says:

      Yup. Black swallowtails are the 2nd most popular butterfly in my area. They feed mainly on dill and parsley. I love ’em.

      • Bittersweet⭐Cupcake says:

        So same process same everywhere but parsley leaves!? Cus I live in Lebanon and honestly Parsley is much easier to find than milk weed!

        • Karen says:

          Well the process depends on the butterfly. What kind of butterflies do you have? Do you have monarchs? Because if you’ve seen them that means they must be feeding on something. It would be milkweed or a variation of it. 🙂 Lemme know. ~ karen!

  32. Morgen says:

    KAREN! That video made me cry happy, sad tears. What a beautiful project to share with us.

  33. Jill says:

    absolutely gorgeous.

  34. Nancy says:

    I too want to plant some milkweed in my garden and have found some beauties at Annies Annuals so maybe by next year I can watch the miracle of the butterfly.
    Thanks so much for this fabulous documentation.

  35. Natalie says:

    What an awesome series of posts! Thank you! 🙂

  36. Shauna says:

    Thanks for sharing Karen…. it was really great!

  37. Laurie says:

    Thank you for the lovely post! I raised one myself this summer. The entire process was extraordinary experience to say the least. Such life lessons learned and reinforced as we witnessed death, transformation and rebirth. I’ll never forget it.

  38. Norma says:

    Lovely to witness this miracle, have got to find some milkweed pods, swipe some seed and grow it next year in the yard. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  39. Erin says:


    Thank you for this series. My siblings and I raised monarch butterflies every summer when we were kids. My dad would pack his stuff away, and our garage shelves would be lined with jars, each with one or two catapillars. They made it look so simple, but we would watch knowing what was happening truly was a complex miracle. My father is now in final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This is most likely his last summer with us. I think next year I’ll raise a bunch of butterflies just for him. Thank you so much for the memories!!

  40. Valentina says:

    such a miracle… amazing.

    the link to the video seems broken 🙁

  41. amy says:

    Yup…real tears in my eyes at the pictures of the butterfly leaving your hands to the flowers. Thank you Karen.

  42. Sharalee says:

    Wow – this has been such an amazing little journey to follow along. Such a little miracle. Your butterfly is beautiful, you’ve raised him well 😉

  43. Susan says:

    Thank you for these posts. Another reminder of how lovely life can be.

  44. Ree says:

    Thank you.

    That was really great!

    You Rock!


  45. Shannon says:

    Yay, I knew this series would have a happy ending.

  46. Anemone says:

    Yea..its sad…you know i was kinda wondering if in the butterfly’s mind..if he was thinking…maa maa…maa maa…

    Anywayyy…its not soo green, icky and gooey now is it eh?

  47. Tricia Rose says:


  48. Pam'a says:

    Goodbye! Goodbye!


    Your butterfly *has* changed the world, Karen…

    We who witnessed a miracle thought some different thoughts…Who knows where that could lead?

    Thanks again for sharing. 🙂

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