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University of Minnesota Extension

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5th Instar

Egg | 1st Instar | 2nd Instar | 3rd Instar | 4th Instar | 5th Instar


Body and head (x2.5)

5th instar body5th instar head

Body Length: 25 to 45 mm
Body Width: 5 to 8 mm
Front Tentacles: 11 mm
Back Tentacles: 4 mm
Head Capsule: 3.5 mm in diameter


The body pattern and colors of fifth instar larvae are even more vivid than they were in the fourth instar, and the black bands look wider and almost velvety. The front legs look much smaller than the other two pairs, and are even closer to the head. There are distinct white dots on the prolegs, and the body looks quite plump, especially just prior to pupating.

Fifth instar monarch larvae often chew a shallow notch in the petiole of the leaf they are eating, which causes the leaf to fall into a vertical position. They move much farther and faster than other instars, and are often found far from milkweed plants as they seek a site for pupating.

Color Pictures

5th instar 5th instar