After about two weeks as a caterpillar, the monarch is ready for the final stage of becoming an adult butterfly. The caterpillar will stop eating and begin to wander, seeking a safe and sturdy location to pupate. Once the caterpillar has found the perfect spot, it will form a silk pad and a “button” from which it will hang, head down in a “J” shape. Which is also known as “J Hanging.” The caterpillar will stay this way for about 14 hours. The caterpillar will appear to unzip its skin and the pale green pupa will be exposed. It will take less than two minutes for the pupa to appear. Over the next few minutes, the monarch pupa will continue to change by whirling and twirling in its “Pupa Dance.” When the process is complete, the pupa will be a beautiful jade color with gold trim.


While the process of complete metamorphosis looks like four very distinct stages, continuous changes actually occur within the larva. The wings and other adult organs develop from tiny clusters of cells already present in the larva, and by the time the larva pupates, the major changes to the adult form have already begun. During the pupal stage, this transformation is completed. Many moth caterpillars (but not all) spin a silken cocoon to protect them as pupae. Butterflies do not do this, and their pupa stage is often called a chrysalis.

Chrysalis (Pupa) Metamorphosis


Gender of Monarch Chrysalis

Determining the gender of the chrysalis requires keen eyes or a microscope. Surrounding the cremaster (the structure from which the chrysalis hangs). There are a pair of black dots next to the cremaster.

  • If the monarch is a female, there will be a distinct line centered between the black dots.
  • If the monarch is male, there will be a small dimple centered between the black dots.