My caterpillar crawled off the milkweed
1. Caterpillars will often crawl off the milkweed to shed their skin (molt). They do this 4 times before heading to the roof for a final reveal...the chrysalis! To molt, they sometimes crawl to the cage wall, cuttings containers, floral tubes, or the floral tube rack. It can take them an entire day to do this and they'll often be positioned with their head toward the ground.
It's best to leave them alone during these periods. After they are done, they'll devour the shedded skin, and head back for some fresh milkweed...so make sure there is some close by!
2. Caterpillars will also crawl off milkweed if it's not fresh or if plants/cuttings/leaves are overcrowded. If this is an issue, bring in some fresh milkweed and make it easy for them to find.
3. Sometimes caterpillars will crawl away to form a chrysalis prematurely. This is often because they have been parasitized by Tachinid Flies or Best case scenario, you'll just end up with a smaller than average butterfly.