Red Spotted Purple

Red Spotted Purple female butterflies prefer to lay eggs along the tips of cherry or willow leaves near water courses or along power or gas line right of ways near forest edges. Once the egg hatches into a young first instar caterpillar, it begins to feed around the vein of the leaf; creating a conspicuous perch and then extending that perch with dung and debris.

When the caterpillar molts to second instar, it shows a visible white saddle that measures daylength in order to assess whether it will hibernate/build a hibernaculum at third instar or go through to adult. The best way to raise caterpillars is to keep your room light on 24 hours a day so that caterpillars feed through to adult and bypass hibernation. If your larva does construct a hibernaculum, click here for overwintering instructions.

Click on any image below to launch a slide show on how to raise red spotted purples. To see a video on how to handle caterpillars, click here. If you feel bored during the winter months, it is possible to find these hibernacula and resume rearing them in the spring.