A chrysalis is not attached and needs to be reattached or placed where the butterfly can emerge safely? No problem.

What do we do? It depends on the species. If the chrysalis is narrow, reattaching is recommended. We find that Zebra heliconian/Longwing, Gulf Fritillary, Julia, Great Southern White, and other species with long narrow chrysalises have a much better emerging rate if they are reattached.Here are a few ideas for the species that we do not reattach.

Mesh popup habitat

We take a mesh popup, any size, and place paper towel(s) on the bottom to absorb fluids. We simply lay the chrysalis(es) on the paper towel near the side of the popup. When they emerge, they instinctively crawl to the side and climb up far enough to clear their wings once they are expanded. One IMPORTANT CRITICAL part of this is that the plastic must be on the top or bottom. If your habitat has a plastic side, it must not be to the side. If plastic must be on the side, totally cover the plastic side with a dark cloth. Their greatest instinct is to go to light. As they stay at the bright plastic side, they will often end up with crumpled wings. (In my little rearing room at home, I use these smaller popups, like the first three photos. At the farm, where we emerge hundreds, we use larger popups, like in the fourth photo.)

Emerge butterflies in a popup habitat
Emerge butterflies in a popup habitat Plastic MUST be on top or bottom, not on a side toward the room or a window.

Plastic cup

When we had only one chrysalis to emerge, we have used a tall plastic cup and lid. We tear a strip of paper towel and place it on the bottom and up one side of the cup. The reason plastic works in this case is that the cup is so narrow. As they walk around the bright plastic side,it will go to the bright light but will quickly touch the paper towel and crawl up to expand its wings.

Emerge butterflies in a plastic cup
Emerge butterflies in a plastic cup

Straight pin or safety pin

If silk is left on the chrysalis, it is easy to use a straight pin or safety pin to hang the chrysalis. NEVER EVER pin through the cremaster or chrysalis itself.

Emerge butterflies by pinning through the silk

String or dental floss

String or dental floss can be used to tie around the cremaster of a Monarch and Queen chrysalis. The first time we did this, we pulled the string tight and broke off the cremaster. We learned that when doing this, the string must be tied snug but not too snug. Once tied, it can be hung anywhere by the string. We find it easier to make a loop with the string and slip the loop over the cremaster before pulling it snug.

Paper towel pocket

Deb Dale makes paper towel hammocks for her unattached swallowtail chrysalises. Simply fold a piece of paper towel to make a pocket and staple it. Tuck the chrysalis (jointed end down and point outward) into the pocket and hang it on the side of your enclosure.

Make a pocket with a piece of paper towel, hang it on an object, and place the chrysalis inside the pocket.
Make a pocket with a piece of paper towel, hang it on an object, and place the chrysalis inside the pocket. (Photo and idea by Deb Dale.)


Some species can be attached with tape. After taping a chrysalis, we recommend tapping it gently with one hand while holding the other just beneath it. If the chrysalis does not have silk, this method isn’t as secure as some other methods. It isn’t a good sight to come back and find that it fell and burst open after we walk away from it.

Emerge butterflies by taping the cremaster


If you prefer to glue your chrysalis, you can do so.

Gluing rules:
1. Glue the end that was originally attached. Except for Monarchs and Queens (and other Danaus species), this is the jointed end, the abdomen.
2. Glue the point on the side outward.
3. If you use hot glue, allow the glue to cool enough to not burn your finger.

Notice where the chrysalis is normally attached. If it is your first or you can’t remember, do an internet search for the chrysalis of that species of butterfly. What part of it is normally attached? It is fine to glue a swallowtail chrysalis with the abdomen up and head down, as long as the abdomen is the part that is attached and the head is not attached. They can be TURNED upside down as long as they are not GLUED at the wrong end. It’s the glued area that is critical, not the orientation of the chrysalis.

Emerge butterflies by gluing them to a surface
Emerge butterflies by gluing them to a surface. It is critical that ventilation is provided so the extra humidity from meconium will evaporate.)

There are wrong ways to glue a chrysalis. Look at the photos and find the two examples of the wrong way to glue a chrysalis. They emerge at the back of their thorax. If this part is glued, they cannot emerge.