Friday, November 13, 2009

Inside My White Peacock Nursery


I currently have 100 White Peacock chrysalises, 50 caterpillars, and one White Peacock butterfly that emerged. I thought I had only 140 caterpillars, but after a recount I discovered more. In the containers you can see how much food it takes to feed all those caterpillars. I fed them fogfruit, water hyssop (bacopa), and leaves of a native wild petunia plant.


Before the chrysalis stage, the White Peacock caterpillar must find a stationary spot to hang. This could be a branch, leaf, or they may even pupate on the ground. As this final molting approaches you will notice that the caterpillars head has a greenish hue. Suddenly the hanging caterpillar begins to wiggle and the old skin begins to be shed away. Underneath is the chrysalis covering where the White Peacock butterfly will develop.

Have you ever wondered what happens once the caterpillar has made a chrysalis? After research, I discovered that inside the chrysalis enzymes are released that break down the caterpillars tissues. The caterpillar turns into a butterfly as these tissues are rebuilt. This metamorphosis usually takes 8 to 14 days depending on the outside temperature and species of butterfly.

chrysalis size for book

White Peacocks are small butterflies. Look at it compared to the larger chrysalis of the Monarch.


I discovered that White Peacock chrysalises have black dots along the front. Some spots are more bold than on other chrysalises. It seems that the spots appear after the chrysalis hardens.


I noticed that the chrysalis were different sizes. Some chrysalises were larger where the abdomen of the butterfly develops. Other chrysalises were small and slender. My theory is that different butterfly genders have different sizes of the chrysalises.


Not all my caterpillars survived. This chrysalis escaped and was found hanging on the lanai curtains. If your chrysalis turns completely black with no signs of emerging it either has been attacked by bacteria or a parasite entered the chrysalis. I had to dispose of the chrysalis so it would not infect my other caterpillars and chrysalises.

I lost 2 chrysalises because a mischievous  caterpillar decided to crawl on the chrysalises before they were dry. After that tragedy, I gently moved my other caterpillars that were hanging in a ‘J’ position to a separate chrysalis container. Inside they made chrysalises without interruptions. To move hanging caterpillars or chrysalises put a small amount of water on your fingers and rub it gently against the silk on the cremaster. The silk can easily be unattached from a twig or container this way.

The count down to my Costa Rica tour is 59 days.


  1. Elizabeth,
    White peacock chrysalis range in color from green to black. Black chrysalis tend to form near to mud, dark objects and old foliage.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I currently raise monarchs and gulf fritillary but see a lot of white peacocks hanging around. They will be my next to raise.

    1. White Peacocks are a lot of fun to raise. They hang around wetland areas a lot. What state do you live in? At the time of this article, I lived in Florida, but now live in NC. They really loved the wet areas. They feed on water hyssop and frog fruit plant. Shady Oaks Butterfly Farm has an online store and is a great place to get host plants.