Frequently Asked Questions
- I found a caterpillar. What kind of butterfly or moth is it?
Statistically speaking most caterpillars found in the wild are moths. If you live in the United States and you found a caterpillar that you suspect is a butterfly caterpillar, email me a digital photo and I should be able to tell you what it is.
- Where can I find monarch caterpillars?
Monarch caterpillars can be found on milkweed. Monarch adults migrate into the interior of the United States every spring and frequent differing habitat in different parts of the country. In California, they frequent Eucalyptus groves. In the Great Basin, they frequent wet meadows with Russian Olives. In the midwest, they frequent agricultural areas. This webpage teaches more about how to find and take care of monarch caterpillars.
- How can I tell when my caterpillar wants to make a chrysalis?
Different butterfly caterpillars provide different hints that they are about to finish feeding and want to form chrysalis. That is addressed in the Larva to Pupa section.
- I want to raise a swallowtail butterfly. How do I go about doing that?
Different groups of swallowtails feed on different groups of caterpillar host plants. If you have seen a swallowtail flying in your area and are wondering which food plant it feeds on, this page might help. I also created specific pages for the anise swallowtail (western U.S.) and the eastern black swallowtail (eastern U.S.) if those would be helpful. If you are still stumped, please email me your specific question. Please include the region of the country you live in and the color of the swallowtail you have seen flying.
- I am an experienced butterfly collector or butterfly photographer and want to learn how to raise a specific species or subspecies. How can you help me?
The Taxa Specific section of this website that is being populated to provide as much information as is possible for taxa-specific rearing strategies. It is slated to be completed by December, 2010. In the meantime general tips, procedures, and methodologies are addressed in the Techniques and Setups section.
- Why do we feed painted lady caterpillars artificial diet in a jar?
Painted lady caterpillars feed on many plants; but, if you decide to purchase them online, it becomes practical to feed them the artificial diet provided in the jar. At the same time, if you live in a migration zone within the U.S. and Canada, and are interested in how to find and take care of wild painted lady caterpillars, click here. The best time to look for painted lady larvae is in April or May.
- If I'm in an area where butterflies are flying, how can I find their caterpillars?
Finding butterfly caterpillars on their host plants generally tends to be somewhat difficult. However, there are several tips and techniques that can help you. They are addressed on this page.
- What is the smartest way to raise butterflies?
More often than not, the smartest way to raise butterflies is to collect a wild female and to set her up in a cage to get eggs. Specific strategies, techniques, and equipment needed to collect and care for live female butterflies to get them to lay eggs in captivity are discussed on the Female Oviposition Techniques page.
- What do I need to do to make sure a butterfly emerges successfully from its chrysalis?
Butterfly pupae that spend the winter as pupae need to go through a cold cycle before breaking diapause (hibernation) and emerging. This Overwintering Techniques page discusses this in more detail. Other butterflies will emerge immediately from their chrysalis. Please visit the Taxa Specific page to learn which species overwinter as pupae and which do not.
- What should I do after a butterfly emerges?
Some people rear butterflies to obtain perfect specimens for a butterfly collection; whereas others want to raise them to elevate their appreciation of nature. Many share both these perspectives and objectives. The two most important things to remember is that butterflies are reproductively fruitful insects. It is your decision to choose if you want to dispatch them or not. However, if you do release a butterfly in nature, make sure you release the adult butterfly into the habitat where you found the caterpillar or egg.
- Can you sell me butterfly eggs or caterpillars?
Based upon government restrictions and permitting on the transportation and sale of wildlife across state lines, I myself do not sell butterfly immatures. However, http://www.insectnet.com does have sellers and buyers of live insects. The purpose of this website is to help teach you how to find them in their natural habitat and take care of them at home or in the lab.
- Are there organizations that provide field trips that can help me find butterfly eggs and caterpillars?