Plumbers for Nature Research

How to Rear
Pronunciation of Scientific Names

How to Rear Butterflies

Rearing butterflies is quite simple, if you have enough patience. You need:

A box the size of a bread box, with a close fitting lid
A twig that fits into the box
Fine gauze or bandage to cover the box
A clean paint brush
A large rubber band
A piece of card paper and pencil or slide marker pen

The first thing to do is to locate the eggs or caterpillars to breed. In the beginning, it is best to go and examine plants for caterpillars. The early evening, when the caterpillars come out to feed, is a good time. Look on the underside of leaves.

Once you have located a caterpillar, never touch it with your fingers. Break off the twig it is on and put it in the box. Put the lid on until you reach home and be careful not to let the caterpillar and twig rattle around too much.
Once you reach home, take the gauze and cover the box. Then take the large rubber band and secure the gauze in place over the box. Place the box in a cool, shady place. On the card paper, note down where you found it, the plant it was on, the date and any other detail you noticed. Pin or clip the card to the box and note down each change that you observe, along with the date and time.

Do not let the caterpillar be without fresh leaves of the plant it was feeding on. If it is summer time, be careful that the leaves do not wilt. Spray them frequently with water and change them at least once a day. During the rainy season, make sure that no mould appears in the box. Clean the box of the caterpillar’s droppings and old leaves once a day and wash the box every three days or so.

When the caterpillar is small, use the paintbrush to shift it gently from old leaves to new leaves. When it grows larger, place old leaves or twigs near the fresh ones and allow it to climb onto the new leaves of its own will.
Do not disturb the caterpillar too often. When it is changing its skin, it should be left entirely alone. It will change its skin four or five times.
When it gets quite large, it will begin to spin a cocoon or else make only a pupa. Many butterflies prefer to pupate on a twig, so place the twig in the box in a roughly upright position.

It is interesting to watch the caterpillar building its cocoon or pupa. However, it should never be disturbed. Once the pupa is made, you can either leave it in the original box or else transfer the stick to another container. If the cocoon has been made on the side of the box, the best thing to do is to leave it where it is.

Examine it daily. After some weeks or months, the adult will emerge, often at dawn. It should have a twig which it can climb and suspend itself so that the wings can expand. If there is no twig or not enough place in the box, the wings will be crumpled and the creature will not be able to fly.
Once the wings are dry, the species can be identified.


Copyright 2006 - 2020. Peter Smetacek. All rights are reserved.
Those interested in using any material from this website may contact
Peter Smetacek, Himagni.