Why does my caterpillar stop moving?

My caterpillar hasn't been moving. What's wrong? Is it dead? Should I move it to another leaf? Put something else in there? HELP! I'm frantic! I'm in a panic!

Okay, it is time to RELAX! That's right. Relax. Breathe. Chances are that your caterpillar is ready to molt. Shed its skin. Change instars. Grow. Become a bigger caterpillar. And, all your worrying is for nothing! In fact, if you 'bug' the little guy, he/she is NOT going to be pleased at all and you might do more damage than good.

Butterfly larva go through several instars. Each time, they will molt or shed their skin because they outgrow the skin that they are in. When it is time to do this, they often will go to find a nice, quiet place and stop moving, sometimes for around 24-hours or so. With Monarchs, a lot of times, for those of us who raise them indoors, the perfect spot might be on the top (lid) of the rearing container. For others, like this Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), it might be on a leaf.During this time, it is best to LEAVE THE CATERPILLAR ALONE!

Repeat, leave the larva alone!~ Do not touch it. Do not move it. Do not force it onto a leaf. Do not do anything to the poor thing. It is getting ready to 'take off its old clothes and ready itself for the new.' In fact, after the old skin (exuvia) has come off (if you are fortunate enough to watch it happen, it is quite an interesting sight! The larva undulates and the skin move from head to 'tail' and peels off) the new skin is quite moist and takes time to dry and harden. In the meantime, the old skin is often EATEN! (eew!)

SO, if your little caterpillar doesn't move for awhile, what are you going to do? Leave alone, right? Good! Soon, your little one will be a BIGGER one!

Note on Photos & Content

All pictures and content on MyMonarchGuide are the copyright of tdogmom/MonarchFriend. Permission is granted for personal and educational use only.

some of the adorable clip art found on this website is used with the express written permission of D.J. Inkers