• Deborah Kay Kelly


Updated: Nov 17

Poets, Chrysalis Problems, and Surprising Solutions

A little levity and encouragement

Sometimes unexpected issues can arise as a cater-poet enters the third stage of metamorphosis.

Once a cater-poet completes their 2000% growth spurt from hatchling to fifth journal publication, it’s time for the third and most arduous stage of the poet lifecycle—the chrysalis. It happens like this:

Just before a cater-poet pupates you will see a lateral line down their side. This is the lining of their trachea tubes being pulled out the spiracle openings. Their filaments also will be deflated and twisted, hanging straight down. Soon though, they’ll spin a silk hanging-pad on the ceiling and, there, form their chrysalis.

You may wonder why a cater-poet, pre-chrysalis stage, might be on the ceiling. Here are conditions that cause this:

  1. No milkweed in the house.

  2. Dried up milkweed in the house.

  3. Overcrowded house.

  4. Overeager individual.

When cater-poets form groups, the last caterpillar to crawl up sometimes isn’t ready to pupate, but doesn’t want to be left behind. In this case, gently move the straggler onto fresh milkweed, where they can feast for another full day.

You will find some cater-poets like to congregate in corners when making chrysalises (chrysalides), even ominously close to one another. You don’t have to move them apart unless they’re touching, which could result in two poets emerging on the same day.

In other instances, a cater-poet may pupate on the back of a milkweed leaf while other cater-poets are still munching the foliage. To avoid tragedy, move the precocious one away from munching mouths. Chrysalis relocation may prevent overcrowding, spread of disease, and tampering behavior from other cater-poets


Note: Chrysalides should dry-out for at least 48 hours before moving. Also, place a futon on the floor to give them a soft landing, just in case.

Some cater-poets hang by a single strand of silk. This is no cause for concern. A cater-poet can even pupate lying on their side. If their soft chrysalis is left on the floor to harden, the side touching the floor can flatten slightly from the pressure, but the poet should still develop normally. If, however, the chrysalis falls and is oozing green liquid, it’s probably not going to survive. If it didn’t fall far and is not oozing (too badly) return it to its own hanging pad.

Don’t worry. They’re on their way to full metamorphosis.

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