No. Removing the lid could introduce bacteria and mold into the caterpillar environment. Oils and salts from your hands could harm your caterpillars. Do not open the cup until your chrysalides have formed and it is time to move them to your butterfly habitat.
If your caterpillars turn red and begin to disintegrate, they have been infected with the bacteria, Serratia Marcescens. This bacterium occurs if condensation has been allowed to form in the cup. Please be sure to always keep your Cup of Caterpillars away from windows and out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will cause the inside of the cup to heat up and form condensation.
It is a good sign if you see webbing in your cup of caterpillars. The webbing protects the caterpillars from many dangers. Caterpillars use the webbing to stick to their host plants, as the wind can easily blow them off the leaves. Caterpillars also use the silk to pull leaves around themselves to hide from predators that might like to eat them!
Five times! Your caterpillars will shed their exoskeletons four times while they are eating and growing. They shed once more after they have attached themselves to the lid of the cup, just before they pupate.
First, assemble the Chrysalis Station included with your kit. If you have the Deluxe Chrysalis Station, skip ahead to the next step. Fold the center tab up and then fold in both ends to assemble the box.
Remove the lid of your cup. Your chrysalides will be attached to the lid of the cup.
Carefully remove all silk and frass that surrounds the chrysalides.
Next, insert the entire lid with the chrysalides attached into the slot in your Chrysalis Station or Deluxe Chrysalis Station.
Place the Station (with chrysalides) on the floor of the habitat, close to the inside wall of the habitat.
Approximately 3 weeks. Females lay eggs 5 to 7 days after emerging from the chrysalis. The eggs hatch after three days. Caterpillars emerge from the eggs and eat for 10 to 12 days before forming chrysalides. Adult butterflies emerge from the chrysalides in 7 to 10 days.
Gently scoop your chrysalis out of the cup with a spoon. Be sure to remove all of the silk and frass surrounding the chrysalis with a Q-tip. Then lay the chrysalis on a piece of paper towel on the floor of your Butterfly Garden Habitat. The butterfly will emerge there safely.
The caterpillar parts are liquefying and re-arranging to become the cells, tissues and organs of the butterfly. In a few days, you will be able to see the outline of the wings of the butterfly beneath the pupal shell!
Your butterflies will expel a red liquid called meconium. This is a completely natural occurrence. Meconium is the leftover part of the caterpillar that was not needed to make the butterfly. This is stored in the intestine of the butterfly and expelled after the butterfly emerges.
Did you know that just by releasing Painted Lady butterflies, you are helping pollinate?! There is still a lot of work to be done, though. Pollinators need our help. Visit our friends at Pollinator Partnership to find out what you can do!
Tiny drops of meconium may fall to the floor of the habitat after your butterflies hatch out of the chrysalides. Place a paper or cloth towel under the habitat to ensure that the meconium will not stain your furniture.
Because of their egg mass, females have a larger, more rounded abdomen than males. Look at your butterflies from above. The male butterfly’s abdomen has straight sides, while the female’s abdomen is curved.
Caterpillars love to eat thistle, hollyhock, fiddleneck, and malva. Be sure the leaves are pesticide-free and place them near your caterpillars in your habitat. It’s best to release your butterflies before egg laying begins. Caring for all the caterpillars that hatch from the eggs would be a very big job!
Adult butterflies typically live for 2 to 4 weeks during the warm parts of the year. During that time they will feed, mate, lay eggs, and begin the amazing butterfly life cycle, or metamorphosis, all over again!
Fill a small tub or sink with warm water and add a drop of mild dishwashing detergent. Swish the habitat in the soapy water. Rinse. Hang the habitat to dry and it will be ready for more caterpillar friends!
Sometimes chrysalides form on the side or bottom of the cup. This tends to happen when a caterpillar knocks down other caterpillars on its way to the top of the cup. If the fallen caterpillars don’t have time to climb to the top again they will form into chrysalides where they have fallen. If this happens, wait for the chrysalides to fully form. After 3 days, gently scoop them up with a plastic spoon, remove all of the silk and frass with a Q-tip, and lay them on a paper towel at the bottom of your habitat.
No. It is best to let nature take its course. Sometimes a butterfly may experience difficulties emerging from the chrysalis. The most frequent cause of these difficulties is the strands of silk that have adhered to the surface of the chrysalis. These strands may coil around the chrysalis and make it very difficult (or impossible) for the butterfly to successfully emerge. To ensure that this does not happen, you MUST remove all of the silk and frass from the chrysalides before moving them to your butterfly habitat.
Monitor the weather conditions in your local area, the ideal temperature to receive your caterpillars is above 55 and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Try to have your caterpillars sent to an indoor mailbox, where temperatures are controlled, rather than to an outdoor mailbox, where temperatures can be extreme.
Do not leave your Cup of Caterpillars unattended in a mailbox.
Be aware if your package’s destination has been sprayed for insects.
Do not expose your caterpillars to dramatic changes in temperature.
If temperatures vary greatly from daytime to nighttime, place a towel over the Cup of Caterpillars in the evening.
Do not place your Cup of Caterpillars in a window or in direct sunlight.
Be sure to remove all silk and frass from the chrysalides before transferring them to the butterfly habitat. If this step is ignored, the butterfly may become entangled in the silk upon emergence, resulting in deformed wings and death.
Butterflies love to feed on the nectar of flowers. They also love to feed on slices of oranges and watermelon. And, of course, your butterflies will feed on the sugar water you will place in their habitat!
Insect Lore recommends that you release your butterflies well before they start to lay eggs (within a week after emergence). If your butterflies do lay eggs, place the eggs outdoors near any plant life. Caterpillars will hatch from the eggs and it would be a big job to take care of that many caterpillars!
The undersides of your Painted Lady Butterfly wings are “marble-colored”, which provides the butterflies with a natural camouflage from predators. When the butterflies open their wings they exhibit the gorgeous orange, brown and black colors the Painted Lady is known for. These bright colors are also a warning to predators.
Like all insects, butterflies are cold-blooded. On cooler days, butterflies must warm their flight muscles in a sunny spot before they can fly. If a butterfly has to sit still for long, it may be vulnerable to a predator.
The new caterpillars might find this food objectionable as it has been contaminated by the prior residents’ frass and nitrogenous waste (urine). Insect Lore does not recommend that you reuse this food once the original caterpillars have pupated.
Yes! You may handle your cup, but always be very gentle. Do not disturb the cup at all during the two days your caterpillars are pupating (changing into chrysalides). And never shake your cup of caterpillars!
If you have hatched both male and female butterflies, chances are they will mate and lay eggs if you do not release them within the recommended time. Insect Lore recommends that you release your butterflies within a week after emergence. Your butterflies would likely lay too many eggs for you to take care of.
All insects are coldblooded, unlike birds and mammals that maintain a constant high temperature. A butterfly vibrates its wings to increase the metabolic rate within its thoracic (wing) muscles. This activity warms the wing muscles, enabling the butterfly to fly away at a moment’s notice!
When you transfer your chrysalides from the cup to the habitat, it is of utmost importance that you gently remove any silk or frass that may surround the chrysalides. If the silk and frass is not removed at this time, your butterfly may actually become entangled in the silk when it emerges from the chrysalis. This entanglement may result in deformed wings.
Some butterflies, like Monarchs and Painted Ladies, migrate to warmer climates. Those that do not migrate often find niches or microclimates in which to shelter during the intense cold. One winter, our entomologist turned over a rock and found a butterfly beneath it. The butterfly was so cold it could hardly move! But the underside of the rock was an excellent place for the butterfly to survive. On sunny winter days, the rock was warmed by the sun and maintained its warmth even during the cold evenings. The ground beneath the rock was also warmer than the ambient air temperatures. Add to this the fact that insect bodies also contain glycols (which lower their freezing temperature) and you have a great chance of winter survival!
No. Your caterpillars arrive with all the food they need to grow into healthy butterflies. Once your butterflies have emerged from the chrysalis stage, feed them with fruit, nectar (sugar water), or nectar bearing flowers.
No. Your caterpillars have all the moisture they need. Remember to keep your cup of caterpillars away from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause the inside of the cup to heat up and form condensation. This condensation can cause your caterpillars to sicken and die.
Like you, caterpillars need to rest and digest their food. But just wait! Your caterpillars will become more and more active as they eat the food at the bottom of the cup. Eating and growing is what they do best!