Dehydrated Butterfly Chrysalises

What can you do to protect your chrysalises when they are stored indoors?

Dehydrated Red Admiral Butterfly Chrysalis

Dehydrated Red Admiral
Butterfly Chrysalis

Dehydrated Julia and Red Admiral butterfly chrysalises

Dehydrated Chrysalises
Julia and Red Admiral Butterfly

A butterfly chrysalis can easily dehydrate in air conditioned and/or heated buildings. Air conditioning and heating removes moisture from the air. Butterfly chrysalises need humidity.

To prevent dehydration, dunk or spray your chrysalis under/with water a couple of times a day!

Chrysalises breathe through holes in their sides, called spiracles. A good wetting will not harm them. Remember that almost every chrysalis experiences rain or dew in nature.

When a chrysalis is dehydrated, it colors up, becomes ready to emerge, yet never emerges. Sometimes the wings show through the sides but it stays that way for days on end. When you finally pick it up to see what is wrong, it is as light as a feather.

Air conditioners and heaters dehydrate the air, removing humidity as they cool and heat. Chrysalises that are stored indoors while you are waiting for them to emerge are especially prone to dehydration. Droughts can dehydrate a chrysalis that is outdoors, wild or not wild.

To prevent dehydration, either:
1) Dunk the chrysalis under the water faucet twice a day or
2) Keep the chrysalis on or near a living plant or
3) Spritz the chrysalis with water twice a day.

These photos are of chrysalises which were shipped to a customer. She stored them in a garage in a severe early spring Florida drought while they waited for the adult butterflies to emerge. After a few weeks, they contacted us to stay that the adults didn’t emerge. Although we told them that it wasn’t necessary, they did return them (which we greatly appreciate) for us to look over. The cause of their death was immediately evident. They were as light as a cotton ball, totally dehydrated to the point that they were preserved like a mummy. We broke off one side of the chrysalis shells to reveal the fully developed butterfly inside each chrysalis.

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