When the caterpillars have eaten and grown enough they wonder off looking for the best spot to turn into a chrysalis. This is the most exciting part. The process is amazing. They are sneaky and will try to escape and can go in the oddest of places. I had one escape and I looked for hours to find out where it went. I found it on the inside of my computer printer hanging from near the ink cartridge. I took a tweezer to the base of the chrysalis and gently pulled it free. Then I tied a thread around the little base and hung it from a stick out in the open. They need to be in an open place that when they hatch, they will be able to spread their wings. I also found one hanging over the door from the door jam.
Above the Monarch caterpillar has attached itself to the milkweed stem. It has turned transluscent in color. You can see the green which will be the chrysalis showing through its skin. When it turns into a chrysalis, I will remove it and hang it from a stick because the milkweed leaf will dry up and curl up around it and it wouldn’t be able to spread its wings when the time came. I will usually put some artifical “tree limbs” in the container for them to climb on as seen in the photo below.
Above, after much wiggling and moving about the caterpillar will shed its skin one last time revealing a beautiful chrysalis. The yellow will turn to shiny gold which is so amazing. I would sit and watch them for hours and it as soon as I turn away for a minute or two and look back they had shed the skin. I always miss it. Above is the photo of the first caterpillar after it changed and below is the one that was hanging from the artificial stick.
I glued some of the chrysalis to pieces of paper with the date they turned so I knew when to expect them to emerge. Sometimes I’d just take the leaf they were attached to and hung it from the fake tree branch. As long as they will be able to spread their wings they will be OK. Tiny wasps sometimes puncture the chrysalis and that will kill it. If the chrysalis doesn’t hatch in the normal time it is probably dead.