Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Milbert's tortoiseshells are interesting butterflies that fly in differing habitat depending upon the time of year.  They can be equally at home roaming city parks and rivers in the early fall and late winter, mid-elevation canyons during the late spring, and arctic alpine habitat in the mid to late summer.

The key to raising milbert's tortoiseshells is to locate clusters of its host plant, stinging nettle, and to search for clusters of its caterpillars during the months of May to July.  Because milbert's tortoiseshell caterpillars are gregarious, they can sometimes be easily found. Do not handle stinging nettle with your bare hands; use gloves!

Click here to watch a video that shows you the type of habitat where caterpillars can be found as well as shows the differences between the nests that milbert's tortoiseshells larvae construct on the nettle vs. the the nests that satyr comma make.

Even though the milbert's tortoiseshell caterpillar nests very similar to those of the red admiral, the difference between the two is that red admiral caterpillars are usually solitary whereas milbert's tortoiseshell caterpillars are feeding gregariously (young caterpillars) or in close proximity (fourth and fifth instar caterpillars.)