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Reader Comments (57)

Hi Monique, I would move your rearing terrariums indoors to help get ants out and create a more temperature-controlled environment. Hope that helps. ~Thanks, Todd

September 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Marsha. Usually, butterflies can emerge from pupae on their own. However, if part of the pupal case remains attached to the abdomen of the adult butterfly, I would carefully remove it. ~Thx, Todd

September 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

I have raised monarchs and black swallowtails for over a decade. I have had black swallowtails over winter as pupa, but today, unfortunately one of the six that were in pupa (found in the 2nd week of Sept) emerged. The temperature for today will be in the low 40's here in Chicago - windy and dropping into the 30's over night.

I was hoping this would not happen. I have a netted cage that I will transfer this one to and feed it a 10:1 water/honey mixture. Will this butterfly survive for a couple of weeks? It actually seems to be one of the six that went into chrysalis after two others that are still in chrysalis.

Thank you.

October 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterS Martinez

Hi Sue,

If you feed your butterfly regularly, it can live up to two weeks indoors. Sometimes when you rear them indoors, some will emerge immediately; even if reared late in the year. It has a lot to do with temperature, host plant quality, and daylength.

I hope that helps.


November 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Todd, I found a green caterpillar on my organic cauliflower the other week. I fed it kale, then it started to pupate (I think). I never raised a caterpillar before and am trying very hard with my 2 and 4 yr old! It went from belly up (thought it was dead), to a chrysalis of sorts. I am not sure of the terminology as it's my first exposure to the stages. Half it's body turned into a wing shape form and the other remained similar to a caterpillar. It started to brown on the bottom only. It has remained like this for almost a week now. I moved it to my basement shortly after I realized it wasn't dead to "overwinter" as not to emerge in the cold (we are in NJ). Did I move it down there at the right stage? Should it have turned all brown? It moves as I check it several times a day. Any suggestions? I can send a pic if it helps. Thanks!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

Hi Gaby,

Can you send an email to I apologize I didn't get to your email earlier.

Thx, Todd

March 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Todd

I just realized there was a comment section and allthough you have heard it before i must say that the website is very usefull. I am from Norway, so we have different species, but i find your techniques and methods very helpfull. I just started to try and rear different species 2 years ago and thats when i discovered your site. I currently have lycaenidae larva hibernating which i hope have survived the winter!

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicolas

I live in east contra costa and have been looking for anise swallow tail caterpiller to raise with my kids. I used to raise them when i was little, but that field now has a house on it. Do any of you know where we can find some? Thank you.

April 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Hi Deanna,

Along the California coast, the anise swallowtail uses fennel as a host. I would google photographs of Foeniculum vulgare to see what it looks like (or you could check my photos at

The anise swallowtails might be using fennel in East Contra Costa County; But, I'm not sure. This butterfly also uses other parsleys in mountain areas. Another option is to contact Theresa at She is a butterfly breeder from north of you along the California Coast in Fortuna. She breeds anise swallowtails and might have some suggestions or options.

~Thx, Todd

April 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Nicolas,

Thank you for those nice words!! I'm glad you like ths site!


April 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Marvelous site - found you through a link from the Butterflies and Moths of North America. I'm trying to rear a caterpillar to, well, whatever (butterfly or moth, we don't know) and I have a question. The caterpillars are decimating my Philadelphus (mock orange) like they have every year. Fast. I'm concerned I'm going to run out of food for the caterpillars I have in the container. Today I cut some branches and put them in water in hopes I'd have enough, but what do you do if the food supply runs out?
Again, this is a terrific site and thanks for all the hard work you put into it,

May 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGing


My daughter "saved" 4 caterpillars from my herb garden- they are in a chrysalis now...
The jar is kind of gross from all the "purge" from them and a a casualty. Should I clean the jar or not? One has attached himself to the jar itself. There's mold growing at the bottom and I really wanna clean it out but am afraid that I will hurt the butterflies to be. Any advice?

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

What a great website! I found some eggs four days ago and hope to raise them. This will be my first attempt. I don't know what they are yet. I've searched for photos of eggs to identify them but have not found any that look like these.
Todd, I am sending you an email with photos and a couple questions - like, can you tell what these are? Feel free to use them if you want. Yours is by far the best website I've come across! Thank you for all the effort you've obviously put into it. Wish me luck!

July 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

I am a Master Gardener in Marion Co, Oregon, and member of our "bug group". 2 weeks ago, I was given a Lorquin's Admiral caterpillar to raise to adulthood. I read info on your website, and followed instructions. It has already formed its chrysalis! I am now going to put it into its emergence container, as per your instructions. I was wondering, how long it will be before it emerges? Do I need to provide a certain % of humidity? How about the lighting? Temperature? I couldn't find any answers to these questions so far. Please inform me. And thank you in advance! -Penny Esplin

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPenny Esplin

What wonderful pictures and information. I am collecting Monarch caterpillars and eggs for the first time and your web site has given me a wealth of information. Thank you.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Hi Penny,

Your pupa should emerge in 7-10 days in an emergence container without any need for humidity or daylight length. When raising a second instar caterpillar, it is always helpful to give it long days to coax it to go through and not hibernate. However, now that you have a pupa, I would place it in an emergence container indoors and keep it away from direct sunlight and you should be fine.

Thx, Todd

July 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

I"ve been raising Eastern Black Swallowtails (I guess) for 6-7 years. I've tried to raise enough parsley to feed them but have had a very difficult time ~ at this moment when i have a lot of caterpilars my parsley plants are dying off, and they were new this spring. I must purchase parsley from the store (I hate to do that as i know it has been sprayed). Any ideas of how to best wash the parsley, or is there anything else i can feed them?

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe bell


This is my first year trying to "raise" black swallowtail butterflies and the other day, a nursery gave me some fennel plants that they were going to throw out. I put them on my back patio, and before I could plant them, a black swallowtail laid some eggs on one of the plants today (September 12). We live in Michigan and our nights are starting to get cooler (lower 50's). My question is do you think that the eggs will hatch this year?

If the eggs do hatch, can I plant the fennel into a container and bring it into the garage when the nights start getting colder, or should I just plant the fennel into the ground and let nature take its course with the butterfly eggs?


September 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

We have black swallowtail caterpillars in their fifth instar in our first grade class. It is mid September. Will the butterflies emerge in the warmth of the classroom, or will they remain dormant til spring? Thanks!

September 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterquestionmark

Hi Joe,

I might recommend purchasing potted fennel, dill, rue, or parsley from a plant nursery over purchasing it from the produce department of a supermarket. The plant will be fresher and can prevent disease much easier from a plant nursery over a supermarket. I would just make sure that your plant hasn't been sprayed with a systemic.

If you are forced to use store-bought cuttings, one option is to soak your store-bought parsley cuttings in diluted bleach and then rinse thoroughly with water.

Thx, Todd

September 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

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