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Butterflies in the Garden

Plant It and They Will Come

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Raising Butterflies
Black Swallowtail

This is a downloadable brochure on raising butterflies -  Butterfly Rearing Brochure.pdf




These are Some of the Cages I Use to Raise Butterflies



Here are the Methods of Raising Monarchs that Work for Me:


1st – Pick off the leaf that has the egg on it.


2nd – Get a plastic container that is at least 5 inches high. You can turn the container on its side with the lid in the front. The container must be big enough so that the wings can fully extend. Do not put any holes in the lid until the caterpillars are at least 1/2 inch long. I switch the lid with no holes to a lid that I've hot glued a piece of window screen to when the caterpillars are closer to 1 1/2 inches. Just open the container two to three times a day. Wave the lid over it to circulate the air. The Monarch caterpillars are so small that they can crawl out of a hole made with a sewing needle.I have found that making the hole only about 2 x 2 inches provides enough moisture to keep the leaf fresh, while insuring that the top is dry enough for the silk pad to hold the chrysalis.

*Sterilize anything that has come in contact with the caterpillars or butterflies with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Always soak containers made of plastic or fabric in this solution for a minimum of 15 minutes before putting new eggs or caterpillars in it. This will kill any bacteria or parasites that may be in the container.*

Put a maximum of only 3 eggs/caterpillars per container to limit the number of possible infected Monarchs. Ideally, 1 per container is best.


3rd – Put a damp, not wet, paper towel in the container and place the leaf on it. As the caterpillar eats, continue to add more Milkweed leaves. When the paper towel becomes soiled, replace it. Moisture and dirty conditions can cause bacterial infections. If you use a paper towel make sure it's just damp and remove frass (poop), at the least, daily.


4th – When the caterpillar is getting ready to make its chrysalis, it will hang in J. After about 24 hours it will molt for the last time and reveal its chrysalis.


5th – The night before the Monarch is going to eclose (come out), the chrysalis will become transparent and you’ll be able to see the wings.


6th – The next day when it comes out, let it drip dry for at least 3 1/2 hours before you release it. This will allow enough time for the wings to harden and dry. If it’s raining, just release it as soon as it quits, but not if it’s dark.


*If you should have an egg that doesn't hatch, a caterpillar that dies, a chrysalis that a Monarch never comes out of, or a Monarch that has deformities, place it in an envelope and put it in the freezer for an entire day or overnight. Then place the entire thing in the trash.*