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If you want adult butterflies yet this year, I would raise your caterpillars in an area where they can receive artificial light 24 hours a day. I would also feed them the freshest host available.

On the other hand, if you want your pupae to hibernate, I would feed them under a short-day environment (8 hours or less.)

It's your call as to whether you want to release them this fall or next year. Kids always seem to enjoy the fruit of their efforts and see them emerge this year.

Eastern Black Swallowtails could still be on wing. It depends upon how far north you live.

Thx, Todd

September 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Todd,

The other day, the kids found a few black swallowtail caterpillars on some fennel in the garden, so we decided to try to do a little research on them and found your website. Our caterpillars are still fairly small so I would say that they are in the 2nd or possibly 3rd instar.

As we move later into September and then into October, the nights up here are getting cooler. I know every caterpillar is different, but our question is how low of a temperature can a small black swallowtail caterpillar take?

Can we bring the caterpillars inside for the night if the low temperatures get to cold, then put them back on the plant in the morning, or would that be to stressful for them?

Thanks for any information you can give us.

September 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

when I cut milk weed to put it in with the caterpillar, they wilt even though I put them in water? The young caterpillar seems to eat them anyway but I can't figure out why it keeps wilting? somebody told me to be careful cause the young caterpillars will drown. any suggestions?

September 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternancy heltsley

Hi Katie,

I always recommend you raise your caterpillars indoors to protect them from natural predators.

This late in the year, I would recommend exposing your caterpillars to short days so that the pupa will hibernate and you can emerge and release your butterflies next spring. If you expose your caterpillars to long days through artificial conditions, they could emerge immediately; but, it may be too cold outside for them to live and flourish very long.

The only reason to expose your caterpillars to 24 hours of light is if you want them to emerge immediately where you wish to keep them for a butterfly collection. But, if you wish to release them, I would provide caterpillars with 8 hour days, overwinter the pupa in the refrigerator, and emerge/release them next spring.

I hope that helps.

Thx, Todd

September 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

Hi Nancy,

I would try the twin cup method of handling your milkweed. The link below shows several examples. However, what I recommend is that your lid be solid so that your milkweed is initially exposed to 100 percent humidity. (That will help it stay perked up.)

Puncture holes in a standard 32 ounce cup. Fish the milkweed through the holes. Place that cup on top of another cup that has water. The link above shows you how to tweak this inexpensively. Place a solid lid on top of the cup with milkweed. After 24 hours, remove the lid and replace with another lid with a large hole with butterfly net material attached so that caterpillar frass can dry.

By then, your milkweed should have perked up and stay that way.

Hope that helps.

Thx, Todd

September 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterTodd Stout

I live in El Valle de Anton, Republic of Panama. A friend of mine is opening a butterfly haven. We will be growing from eggs. I want to learn everything I can about butterflies! He as asked be to do tours and work in the gift shop. I would like to learn everything I can.


December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Baxley

Your content is very useful to me. I thank you for good information
I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your website.This is useful information for me.
And I want to thank you for the information.

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersoccer

I have seen a large yellow tiger stripe swallowtail drinking nectar from my zinnias & read that one of their host plants is willow. I'm a town dweller in Bisbee, Az & a native tree here is "Desert Willow"; Is that a suitable species for them? I started my 1st butterfly garden this spring & have several parsley plants. I have a lot of black swallowtails coming to my garden to feed & I now have 11 caterpillars in their 1st & 2nd instars. I've been moving these as I find them to a protected parsley plant I have indoors but I can tell I'm going to need a lot more parsley & it's getting too late in the season to get more potted plants. Any suggestions? I have read they will eat store bought parsley- is this so? I can't remember the last time I felt so much joy & excitement about something!!

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Great informative website Thank you! I think my caterpillars have been poisoned with raid through parsley and need to know how to help them. My inconsiderate neighbor sprayed his raid garden spray in his doorway right next to my open window and my outdoor window garden for a bee issue in his doorway. He did not even use bee spray he used garden spray. My 9’X3’ Container Garden is mostly food such as herbs and tomatoes. Prior to spraying I already brought inside 3 swallowtail caterpillars .The caterpillars did not get directly sprayed with Raid. In hindsight I am now pretty sure the parsley did get quite covered with Raid and is likely a source of poison for 2 of my 3 caterpillars. 2 are suffering how do I help them detox? Is there anything i can do for them? One that did not have the parsley is fine The other two look curled in pain are not really eating. I used a light mist spray bottle to keep them hydrated, I washed one under a light drizzle from the water faucet when it did a gigantic poop. I was sure not to get the caterpillars head under the water. I keep them separated because I know they can be cannibalistic. I can’t get my hands on fresh dill plants until Monday so they only have clippings in a vase from whole food, What can I do to help them suffer less from possible raid poisoning? I regrettably sprayed an entire can of raid for spiders on a wolf spider once and it took him hours to die regrettably the raid was working too slowly s he was suffocated point being the Raid did not work at least in that case. I do regret killing the wolf spider but he was gigantic to me ,and caught me off guard! Raid doesn't always kill thankfully! What can be done to help the caterpillars to detox/live from the poison and is the behavior of curling up/not eating indicative of the poisoning? Or should I sadly take them out of misery? If I have to do that what is the least cruel way? The time line has been 24 hours one was sick yesterday he is still hanging in there. The other just ate the parsley today and has only appears to be sick in the last few hours. They have plenty of dill for now but i am not as sure as with the potted plants that the dill is pesticide free either. What do I do to help the possibly poisoned caterpillars please? Thank you.

August 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh Ann

I have several chrysalis that have not open yet. It is August so I assume they will soon. Do chrysalis often Not open for some reason? Am I correct in thinking chrysalis also overwinter? Thanks.

August 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

We have been raising monarchs for many years , about 20 and more s yesr and one year over 60 but this year we only raised 4 and two other little worms vanished. Do the bigger worms sometime eat the little worms? Thanks

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArt And Doris

It is possible that a gray hairstreak uses lantana as a host plant? I live in Dallas and have seen it mentioned! but not sure. I did just find what looks like a chrysalis on my lantana while cutting it back. I'm going to see what emerges but was curious if you might know since it app rears you have a lot of experience with this butterfly.

August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

Hi Todd!
I just found your wonderful site after i found a cat (nowi found 4 more) on my parsley and i googled it and found you.
I live in Queens NY and i think i am going to raise them inside.
Would the butterflies survive the cold in the fall ? or theywill migrate south?
Thank you
Christos soulantzos

October 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchristos soulantzos

Hi Todd. I have about 15 Monarch Butterflies that have enclosed with in the last 3 days. I have raised them inside and my problem is the weather here in Texas is too cold and windy to release them. I have put sliced oranges, banana. Lantana flowers and also Milkweed flowers and also some fruit juice in a cup with a saturated paper towel for them. They don't seem to be eating you have any suggestions? I was hoping the weather would be mild enough to release them but we are expecting short periods of freezing temps.
Thanks for any information or suggestions you can send my way.

January 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

Hello. I have a swallowtail chrysalis that I am trying to hatch. I found the caterpillar the beginning of September and it turned into a chrysalis over the weekend. I didn't put it in the fridge. It was in my bedroom which has fluctuating temperature between cold as outside to quite warm. At the beginning of January I started to try and hatch it. I put a 75 watt light bulb to shine on it 24 hrs a day. I noticed the chrysalis would squirm from time to time when I first started this. It has not squirmed for about the last week or so and its tail is getting slightly wrinkly. If I feel the ceramic plate under it, it does not feel hot , but rather warm. Am I drying it out? Should I be spraying it once or twice daily with water? It has maybe turned slightly a lighter colour on certain areas since I first put the lamp on it but it is not going black, or getting smushy or anything. Is there still a chance it will hatch? Please advise :)

February 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

I have raised anise swallowtail caterpillars in very large jars and fish bowls. Before they are ready to form the chrysalis, I put a straight, dry twig (e.g., dried fennel twig) in the bottom of the jar, in a standing up position, leaning against the side of the jar. Every time I have done this, the caterpillars have found the twig, climbed part way up, and formed their chryalis on the twig. I can then move the twig with the chrysalis out of the jar and put it wherever I want to. A couple of times, the chrysalises remained dormant for over a year. One was dormant for over two years before it hatched. If the hatching was delayed beyond the normal period of several weeks, I placed the twig outside in a location somewhat hidden by the leaves of a plant and let it be undisturbed until it hatched.

July 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBill Rentz

Hi Todd,

great website and good information.

One concern I would bring up is that I think you should urge your readers to consider the danger of raising and releasing certain butterflies. For example, you describe how to raise White Cabbage Butterflies. While these little white creatures are pretty to look at when flying around, they are very detrimental to crops if they get a foothold. A White Cabbage Butterfly can wreak havoc on a garden in a short amount of time given the quick life cycle and voracious appetite of the caterpillar.

I commend you for showing the feeding damage. Please also urge your readers to recognize that this damage can be quite detrimental to the home gardener or local farmer and to not release the raised butterflies into the wild.

Thank you

August 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

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