What Does a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar Look Like?

Monarch butterfly caterpillars are sometimes an unusual color, shade, or has unusual markings. What causes it? We wish we had all the answers. Having raised hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies, we have documented a few unusual caterpillars and have identified the cause of a few.

What do I do if I find a Monarch caterpillar?

Once you find a caterpillar or egg, cut off the entire leaf or branch that the egg or caterpillar is on, and put it in a glass of water to keep the cutting fresh. Put the eggs or caterpillars in the ventilated container of your choice after lining with newspaper or a rubber mat (for easy clean-up).

How long does it take for a Monarch caterpillar to turn into a butterfly?

In just 9 to 14 days the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is complete. Through the chrysalis, the day before the adult emerges, you can see the orange and black wings of the Monarch butterfly inside.

Can you touch a monarch butterfly caterpillar?

Is it safe to touch a caterpillar? Most caterpillars are perfectly safe to handle. Painted lady and swallowtail caterpillars are common examples. Even the monarch butterfly caterpillar, though toxic if eaten, does nothing more than tickle you when held.

What caterpillar looks like Monarch?

Monarch caterpillars have thin stripes of black, yellow and white. Black swallowtails have their stripe pattern includes dots of yellow, or sometimes orange. Monarchs never have dots, only stripes.

We stress that it is important to plant milkweed because it is the only plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on and that their caterpillars eat.

Monarch caterpillars have thin stripes of black, yellow and white. Black swallowtails have their stripe pattern includes dots of yellow, or sometimes orange.

Finding monarch eggs and caterpillars is an exciting experience, especially if it’s your first time! It can be a bit more difficult to find immature life stages of monarchs compared to the showy adult monarch. However, when you know what signs to look for, it can be much easier!

Every year around this time as the Queen butterflies start to show up, we get lots of questions about how to tell the difference between Queens, Danaus gilippus, and Monarchs, Danaus plexippus. And with the warm weather that has gripped South Texas throughout November and now December, many of us are still finding eggs and caterpillars in the leaves of our milkweed. Queens are here en masse.