While there are many possible reasons, these are the most common
problems and solutions...a little effort on your part will keep
these miracles alive and help them thrive. Please keep in mind
that in Nature only 2-3% reach adulthood so any assistance you
can give will make a big difference these are Naturally occurring problems and as such require constant vigilance. Please take the time to read through our Free Adopt a Monarch program, it will cover the information you will need to eliminate most of the basic problems you will encounter. Everyone who raises Butterflies will eventually have a suituation where disease or predation will harm your butterflies this information will save you lots of upset and hopefully save many of your caterpillars too.
turned black but no caterpillars came out. You may have
a paracitic wasp, it is tiny... looking like a winged ant with
pointed abdomen. You must protect new laid eggs from this pest,
the "caterpillar keeper" a mesh sock works quite well
and will protect from other predators as well. You can tell
if your eggs were paracitized if they turned black within two
days and look dirty inside or if they have hairs or holes in
them, use a magnifying glass or a microscope. One problem egg can release a
dozen more wasps which continue to kill every egg they find...and
they find them all. If you collect from the wild please inspect
for this pest. Note: this wasp is used by farmers to
keep their plants caterpillar free. Wasps will wipe out any
egg it find regardless of type. Wasps are attracted to light
and are slow enough to let you easily catch with your hand and
remove it to a more suitable location... wasp heaven. They will
not hurt you, just squish them with your fingers.
Caterpillars did not hatch from eggs. There are two reasons that this happened one is that they were not fertile eggs, which means that the female could not find a suitable mate <sometimes common if genetically diverse males are not present> and these eggs may be carriers of Nosema which is a paracite carried inside the Female Monarch. There is no cure for Nosema but our sanitizer can help to supress some of the more harmful effects. Nosema is a complicated problem and elimination from your colony should be a goal. We remove any suspect butterflies from our breeding colonies and raise them seperately. It is always best to seperate any suspect caterpillars and butterflies to ensure that you are not cross contaminating other healthy butterflies.
caterpillars disappeared. They have most likely become food
for any number of predators, other larger wasps, ants, spiders,
assasin bugs, misc bugs. The little ones are tasty treats for
a great number of hungry bugs. You must protect new babies or
they may be abducted. DO NOT WAIT TILL IT IS TOO LATE! The "caterpillar
castle" a mesh enclosure works quite well and will protect from
other suituations as well. I can not stress enough about being
prepared for these bandits like ants who can travel across long
distances and silently eat hundreds of just emerged caterpillars.
This has happened to us several times...all it takes is one
mistake or one path to the little cats. We now use a water moat
to stop them from reaching the helpless babies. Larger caterpillars
will wander off from their food plant to hide and inspect their
area so a mesh enclosure of some kind is a good idea. If there
is a hole anywhere they or their predators will find it, YES,
even inside your home.
will not eat. Wait one day and see what happens, sometimes
the caterpillar will rest for up to a day before it molts one
of 5 times <sheds its skin to grow larger>. This lack
of appetite can be one or more of several possible problems...Is
your plant pesticide free? if not they wont eat. Are you using
an artificial diet? if raising monarchs they are pretty picky
and count on losing at least 50% of your caterpillars. We suggest
fresh milkweed leaves only....please raise plenty! Did you change
plant types? some milkweed is more toxic than others and will
cause problems. Old milkweed plants may have higher toxins as
well. Use fresh cuttings! wilted or bug infested cuttings may
kill your caterpillars. If you would not pick it at a salad
bar dont force them to. All caterpillars are eating machines
as long as they are clean, calm and have fresh air and stable
temps all should be AOK. Seperate any caterpillars that look or act differently.
melted into a black foul smelling goo. Well,
you have a bacteria problem! either you are not sanitizing and
removing frasse <poop> from your supplies and containers
or your air supply is not adequate. Caterpillars want to be
clean and dry and away from their frasse. One sick caterpillar
will walk around and infect all the others. Please plan ahead
and make sure your caterpillars are living in the lap of luxury
not a cess pool. Sanitizing everything and good air flow will
prevent this problem unless you are overcrowding. Remember "Lap
of luxury" that is your goal. High humidity and low air flow will create mold and fungus within hours. Our sanitizer will help if used as a preventative measure and will greatly reduce this problem.
did not form correctly You most likely have an OE outbreak...it
is a protozoa that is only killed by freezing or bleaching.
It leaves its egg cases everywhere and attaches itself to the
Monarch abdomen during pupation where it continues to spread
as it contacts other butterflies and their plant hosts. its
eggs are ingested by the caterpillars and continues its destructive
cycle. You must bleach all your supplies and plants and eggs.
Infected cats must be removed from your sanitized stock. Use
a 10% bleach water solution to sanitize everything then soak
in clean water for several minutes to remove bleach salts. You
must even dip the eggs for several seconds then soak in clean
water. Once this problem is visible it is very far advanced
and requires a thorough effort to eliminate the problem. We
consider it butterfly AIDS. It is readily visible under a microscope
just use a piece of clear tape pressed against the bottom of
the abdomen to gather a specimin. Next to the scales which cover
a butterfly body the OE looks like a small brown football much
smaller than the scale.
did not emerge On occassion a caterpillar will be sick but
still makes a chrysalis. All monarchs hatch out, called eclosing,
within 8-14 days unless your temps are cold <below 70 F>.
If you are waiting more than 14 days get worried. Monarchs always
emerge within a day after turning black <you should be able
to see the colored wings through the clear pupae case>. Any
other colors are not good....brow, tan, splotched all are signs
of problems. If you see hairs or brown /tan milky coloration
within, flush the pupae as it has either bigger wasps within
it or a nasty stinky bacteria. Use care when disposing of the
pupae as they will readily break open and are really nasty to
look at or smell. Do not keep old pupae hanging around as if
they have wasps in it say goodbye to many more if you missed
this warning. The newly emerged tachnid wasp lays eggs on pupating
caterpillars and has no remorse. Send it to wasp heaven.
emerged with crumpled wings You most likely have an OE outbreak
read above paragraph. Or your pupae was very stressed during
the pupation process. While we ship many pupae without concern
there are some areas with poor mail service. We do our best
to ensure the viability of all our offerings and will work with
you to reach our common goal of helping restore butterfly habitat.
If you have questions not addressed here please use our Contact Form