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How to Raise a Caterpillar to a Butterfly or Moth

Updated on July 4, 2017

Get Your Young Naturalist Started with the Butterfly Pavilion

You can raise the caterpillar you found with this simple and easy guide! As a teacher and a dedicated naturalist, I really like this butterfly study kit. I have tried quite a few approaches to getting young people interested in the life cycle of butterflies and moths, and the Butterfly Paviion is one of the best of these products. It gives the growing animals plenty of room to to roam. In nature, butterflies and their larvae thrive on having an abundant supply of fresh food as well as fresh air. The Butterfly Pavilion provides them with plenty of both.

The species you'll be raising is Vanessa cardui, commonly known as the "painted lady." This insect has one of the widest ranges of any animal, occurring in one form or another in all four corners of the world. This is important, because when you let your adult butterflies go, you want to make sure you aren't introducing a new species to an environment possibly unprepared to handle it -- you may release these insects anywhere in the Continental USA and Alaska.

By Thomas Brown [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What Do I Know About Bugs?

My relationship with insects goes way beyond a passing interest. I am one of very few humans who are truly bug-obsessed: I camp alone in jungles and deserts, seeking insects for my huge collection; I donate specimens to museums and studies; I am involved in a study of the insects on an island off the coast of Panama. I also draw insects, and I currently have an exhibit of original pen-and-ink artwork on display at the local nature center. My art is also available printed on houseware like napkins and aprons, and I also have a line of t-shirts.

The Butterfly Pavilion

Short But Sweet - An Orange-Tip Butterfly in Slow-Motion Flight

Watch Butterflies Transform From Caterpillar to Adult

The cool thing about the Butterfly Pavilion is that it guarantees you will raise at least six healthy adults, and you'll have a front-row seat for every step of the way. Painted ladies are big, beautiful orange-and-black butterflies, and their caterpillars are cool and spiny. The pavilion is made of see-through mesh. It's roomy, too -- two feet high, and over a foot in diameter. It's easy to raise painted ladies with this kit.

Vanessa cardui -- the Painted Lady Butterfly - These are the insects you will raise with the Butterfly Pavillion

The Painted Lady Butterfly

This butterfly is the one that you usually get when you order a mail-order butterfly raising kit. It's a resilient insect that can adapt to all kinds of environments and foodplants, and there are "versions" of it -- subspecies, forms, and closely-related species -- spread throughout the worls. There's even an endemic version in Hawaii, a beautiful butterfly known as "the kamehameha butterfly" -- named after the famous native Hawaiian king.

Raising the Painted Lady Butterfly

This gorgeous insect, when delivered to you in a culture, will feed on a concoction that is included in the kit. In nature, the caterpillars eat leaves, but in the mail-order version they'll be perfectly happy to consume the paste-like substance that is included.

Save Money With the Butterfly Pavilion Two-Pack

Absolutely Fascinating Time-Lapse of Painted Lady Butterflies

Excellent Butterfly Books for Children

I have selected a few books here that I think will be good for children of different ages. The sticker book from Dorling Kindersley is the kind of thing that could really catch a younger child's attention, and start them on a path of noticing the natural world around them. The guide books are intended for older children (and curious adults!). Once you start being able to identify a number of butterflies, you'll be the one people turn to for "butterfly identification" services.

The Butterfly Pavillion

The National Wildlife Federation's Guide to Gardening for Wildlife

It's amazing how many butterfly and other cool insects you can see at flowers. Even in the middle of cities, a garden that's designed to attract butterflies will surprise you. This is a serious and thorough book that sets you up with everything you need to know to plant a thriving, beautiful, and even educational butterfly garden.

What Do You Think?

Amazon’s Prime Day — Lightning and Thunder! (NASDAQ: AMZN) attempted to bolster it’s sales during a traditionally slow time of year, and it worked like a charm. The event was called “Prime Day,” and it was rewarded Amazon Prime members with so-called “Lightning” deals that popped up during the day.
The only way to get in on Prime day is, of course, to become an Amazon Prime member.

Becoming an Amazon Prime member

Amazon Prime members get free shipping on most (though not all) products that Amazon sells. Members pay $99 a year for this privilege, but if you regularly shop on Amazon then you’ll know that you can hit that mark in shipping fees pretty quick — making the one-year fee an excellent deal.

Amazon’s Secret Agenda

Offering the sale certainly increases visibility for the store, and it was a big hit in terms of the bottom line — data shows that sales jumped on the new “holiday” — but the real benefit may be an increase in the number of customers going for Prime membership. Prime members spend more than half again as much as the average non-Prime member. Amazon is certainly aware of this, and Prime Day looks like a smart way to get more Prime members. It also looks like a day that’s here to stay.

Would You Ever Raise Butterflies?

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