Raising butterflies from caterpillars can be a very rewarding hobby.

Here are the secrets to raising your own.

Have you ever stopped to admire the natural beauty of a butterfly as it spreads its colorful wings and soars through the open air? If you’d like to have a closer relationship with butterflies and with nature, why not consider raising your own butterflies? To raise your own butterflies, you’re going to need to start with the butterfly’s less eye catching precursor, the caterpillar. Here’s how to raise butterflies at home:

Select appropriate housing for your caterpillars.

A small aquarium makes ideal housing for nurturing your caterpillars. You can purchase from your local pet supply store. You’ll need a screen to fasten to the top to allow good ventilation with allowing your caterpillars to escape. Line the bottom of your container with a layer of grass and add several sticks for your caterpillars to pupate on.

Collect your caterpillars.

if you start raising butterflies during caterpillar season which extends from later spring to early simmer, you may be able to collect your own caterpillars. If not, you can purchase caterpillars from a variety of companies located online that cater to people who raise butterflies.

Feeding your caterpillars

This can be tricky since each caterpillar species eats only a narrow group of host plants. If you buy your caterpillars from a distributor, you can get information on how to feed your particular caterpillar species. If you collect your own, you may need to refer to a field guide to determine what plants to provide for your caterpillar brood. If you collect your caterpillars outdoors, cut off a portion of the branch with leaves that housed your particular species. More likely than not, this is the host food for your particular caterpillar.

It’s important to remember that a caterpillars’ food must be replaced every day to keep it fresh. Caterpillars will only feed on the freshest of food. You may want to mist your caterpillars’ cage every day to keep it moist, but no other water is needed since caterpillars derive water from the plants they eat.

Cleaning the caterpillar cage

It’s important to clean waste on a daily basis when raising butterflies as residual waste cal encourage growth of mold. If caterpillars die, be sure to remove them quickly from the housing. If it died from infection, you don’t want the other caterpillars to be infected.

How to care for pupa

One day you’ll look and find your crawling caterpillars have been replaced with pupa attached to the sticks you provided for pupating. At this point, the only care you need to give is to make sure their housing stays moist by misting with a water bottle. The time at which your butterflies emerge will vary with the species. Most butterflies emerge from their pupa after a period of about two weeks unless they pupated in the fall. In this case, they may not emerge until spring. How can you tell if a pupa is no longer viable? It will generally turn extremely dark when the pupa is dead.

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