Post a Comment or Question

Welcome! Please click here to provide any comment or question on raising butterflies. (Once there, scroll down to the end of the page.)

Thanks, Todd

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (10)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (57)

This is a fantastic site! I'm so glad I found out about it through SoWestLeps. I'm always on the lookout for eggs/caterpillars to raise and photograph. I'm a fairly new resident of SE AZ and have raised a few species since moving here. Most of my butterfly raising experience is from the East Coast. I look forward to as much information as I can get about raising western butterflies. Thanks for doing this!

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArlene Ripley

I am pleased to find this page on raising butterflies, and will add a link to it on The Kids' Good Bug Page. You may wish to visit this page, as there is a section devoted to raising Gulf Fritilaries.

It's a fascinating endeavor to watch our colorful friends develop.

March 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave Green

This website of yours, as well as your correspondence via email, has been my personal best web-find of 2010! I raised my very FIRST butterfly, from a little bird-dropping caterpillar, to a huge Two-Tailed Swallowtail! If it hadn't been for you, i wouldn't have had this experience. Thank you again, Todd. Your work is paying off and blessing a LOT of people... and butterflies!

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCannie Robbins

This is an awesome site. It is informative and complete. The best site on raising butterflies out there!

August 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAbe Homan

A comprehensive site that includes pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about butterflies. Very informative and helpful.... and the best part is the fast response time to email inquiries! I live in N. Central Georgia (Atlanta area) and we just raised our first Black Swallowtail butterfly from a 5th instar caterpillar that my 4-yr-old son and I found on some fennel.... so exciting! I didn't even know you could "raise" butterflies indoors, apart from professional butterfly gardeners and researchers. My son and I have been fascinated with this process... and amazed by God's handiwork! Thanks, Todd for sharing your wisdom and expertise with us!

September 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterC. Locke

Hello Tod,
I really don't have much interest in growing butterflies at this time. I grow native plants, and many of them are host plants for butterflies and Moths. I live in Holden, Utah. I am interested in the location of the Penstemon confusus that you found near the topaz mountain. There is a large population of P. confusus south and east of Scipio, near Scipio lake. You may know Robert Johnson, my son. He has a large collection of moths, butterflies, and beetles.

December 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMerrill Johnson

I have to leave my caterpillars for a few days & many became ill from crawling in their scat. I bathed the ill ones in lukewarm water in a mustered dish every day until they started eating normally. This saved 7 out of 10. I raise Vanessa tamehameha,currently being wiped out by introduced lizards.
Good luck,

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterG from Hawai'i

wonderful site, thank you so much for taking the time, making the effort in setting this up! wish i had found it a couple of years ago when i first started butterfly gardening, but you have answered lots of questions & shown techniques that i can certainly use.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVirginia

Just found a anis swallowtail in my garden in Cranford,nj ,are they common in the northeast? Thank Maria

April 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria


I have a three year old butterfly garden in Rhode Island. How do i determine which of the foraging plants are specific to my region?

May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony J Amado

Hi Maria,

You likely found an eastern black swallowtail larva. They look very similar to anise swallowtails; which basically are western U.S. butterflies.

Thx, Todd

May 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

i stumbled on to a pair of monarch s breeding deep coupled I captured are ready to be displayed in someones collection they are preserved well please contact me

May 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercjrb

hi there, my name is miranda and i found a monarch caterpillar in my backyard my sister lara found another one and it walks really slow and never eats i had my caterpillar since yesterday it's name is stripey i dont have any milkweed is it toxic i heard it was please help thanks

- miranda

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

Hi Miranda, milkweed is toxic to birds; but not to monarch caterpillars. This is why monarch caterpillars thirve on milkweed both because it is a host plant; but also because birds that eat monarch caterpillars get sick and avoid them going forward.


June 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

I am so excited! last year I raised Black Swallowtails and Monarchs. This year I am raising black swallowtails, Question Marks and Red admirals, hopefully monarchs too. I have four that have gone to chrysalis. Two Swallowtails and two Question Marks. My question is I would like to obtain more "host" plants and I am having a time of it finding garden centers, including those who carry native plants, having some specific host plants in stock like stinging nettle and false nettle in my area (NY) I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions? I did go out and purchase a small elm tree last year to act as a host plant for the question mark butterflies. This year I actually have enough elm to help them out. But I cant find Hops anywhere! Please help, I love my butterflies and I love doing this! I think the best part is releasing them only to have them come "home" to lay their eggs. This link I enclosed has pics of some of my current butterflies.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

I have 6 eastern black swallowtail cats and have had them for 2 weeks. They are getting big....and I've never raised any before. How long does it take before they chrysalis? I lost 3...they died and I don't know why. Anyway, they are eating dill like there's no tomorrow. I live in Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Thanks.

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBetty

Hi Liza,

Thank you for your email. For Red Admirals, I would recommend using false nettle which can be purchased from Shady Oak Butterfly Farm in Florida. Their website is
. They ship false nettle in great shape and at reasonable prices. (I don't work for Shady Oak Butterfly Farm; just recommending their services.)

Question Marks also feed on hackberry trees (Celtis spp.). I know that some nurseries do carry that tree.

Hope that helps. ~Todd

June 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Betty,

Yes, Eastern Black Swallowtails will eat a lot of dill; especially at fifth instar before they purge and later form a chrysalis. Based upon what you've told me, I believe your caterpillars are at their last (fifth instar) stage.

If you follow some of the latter photographs from this presentation.
, you will notice that the last instar caterpillars usually stay in that stage for roughly 7-8 days. Once they purge (again--see presentation), you know that they are ready to make a chrysalis. At that point, place the caterpillar in a lunch sack or gizmo to pupate. Because they like to wander when looking to pupate, I would suggest that you cage them using a butterfly cage or open terrarium technique I reviewed here.

I talked about "gizmos" in this presentation on youtube.

Hope that helps.

Thx, Todd

June 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi! I live in Florida and I had a lot of luck raising Gulf Frittilaries and Zebra Longwings and Monarchs from eggs to butterflies, but then I started having trouble with ants killing them off. I put them in aquariums with netting over them, but the ants always get in. It is so frustrating! I hate killing anything (even ants) but thinking about placing some natural ant traps in the cages. Can you suggest anything?

Also, can extreme heat kill off caterpillars? It seems that the hotter it got, I started losing some of the caterpillars that did manage to survive the ant attacks.


August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonique

I have a Pipevine Swallowtail that broke from it's branch after it was about a week old chrysalis. It is now having a difficult time getting the bottom half of the chrysalis from it's body. Should I help it?

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>