The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pupa! Pupa! Pupa!

Our highlight for today draws attention to the CMBO's monarch tank where our caterpillars are pupating like popcorn! (No, you cannot eat them, they are toxic!)  Friday we had one caterpillar go in to "J" as we call it, which is the position it takes before it sheds its skin one last time. Monarch caterpillars - also called "larvae" - go through five molts where they shed their entire skin.  The fifth and final molt occurs as the caterpillar becomes a pupa.  The caterpillar spins a silken pad before pupation, and during pupation  it forms the little "stem" that you see at the top of the pupa. This "stem" is called the cremaster and hooks into the silken pad, allowing the chrysalis to hang.

Pupa- 1st day!
This guy became a pupa Saturday.  He must have inspired the others because now on Monday we have 3 more pupae hanging from the top of our caterpillar tank! It takes about 9-15 days of pupation before it will emerge as an adult.

Caterpillars wander until they find the right spot to
pupate. These guys at the top are thinking about pupating too!

Check out our hungry caterpillars and our peaceful pupae at the CMBO for their daily changes.  The pupae over the next week will turn from green to black to clear!  And soon enough we will have our very own CMBO monarchs!

Trivia question of the week:
"How can you tell the sex of a monarch that is in a chrysalis? "
 Look for the answer in "monarch biology" at!

Don't forget! Monarch Demos are begining again soon!  You can learn more about monarchs and see how we tag them! Demonstrations are every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday from 2-2:30 pm. Cost is Free. First demo is Friday September 16.

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