Wonderful! You have taken home a painted lady hatching kit. Now what?
Caring for Your Caterpillars
Keep your caterpillars in their cup with the lid on and out of direct sunlight. They will spend their time and growing. As they get larger, they may make silk around the cup’s inside. You can carefully lift the lid and empty out the little brown balls (frass) that have collected on the bottom of the cup.
In 7-10 days, they will then crawl to the top and hang down. Do not disturb them during this change. After about a day, their skin splits down the back, exposing the chrysalis.
Wait two days after chrysalis is formed to make sure it has hardened and then tape or pin the paper to the top of a larger container such as an aquarium, netting bug box, etc. If your house is dry, place a damp paper towel in the bottom of your habitat when you move the chrysalis in.
Once the butterfly has emerged, allow its wings to expand fully. Give the butterfly several hours to get used to its new form.
Your butterfly will drip red. DON’T WORRY, this is normal dye left over from coloring the wings.
Once the wings are dry, you may move the container.
If your butterfly is too active, move back to a more subdued light. Butterflies are most active at temperatures above 70 degrees in direct sunlight. It may not want to eat for several hours. Don’t worry.
Feeding Adult Butterflies
Feed your butterfly a diluted solution of sugar water; one tablespoon of sugar to six ounces of water. Use pure, unchlorinated water if possible.
Remember that butterflies taste with their feet. Saturate a pad made of several thicknesses of white paper towel or napkins and put it in with your butterfly. After it tastes with its feet, it will uncurl its proboscis and feed. The antennae will point downward. After a little while, if the proboscis does not uncurl, you may gently coax it out with a toothpick, it will not hurt the butterfly. You may also want to feed Red Fruit Punch Gatorade or orange slices.
The Wish Legend
According to a Native American Legend
On a bright summer day, take your butterfly outside, whisper a wish to it and release it. It will carry your wish to the Great Spirit in the sky because you have set it free and kept the balance.
What If Something Unexpected Happened?
The chrysalis formed on the bottom of the cup instead of the paper! Don’t worry, let it dry for 2 days and then gently place it in the bottom of your habitat. It will still emerge and crawl up the sides to dry it’s wings.
One of the caterpillars is getting really big and the other doesn’t look like it’s growing or moving at all! We start with healthy larva but sometimes nature knows if there is a problem and doesn’t allow all the caterpillars to survive. This is why we put two in each cup. Chances are, you will get two great butterflies but if not, don’t blame yourself. These things happen.
The wings don’t look right, they are crooked or small! This does happen at times. Perhaps it was too dry in the place where the habitat was or something inside the butterfly was not right. Again, don’t blame yourself. If it will feed, take care of it as you wish. Butterflies feel no pain but if you think it can’t survive, a gentle way to send it on the ”Butterfly Heaven” is to place it in a small sandwich bag in your freezer. The butterfly will simply fall asleep and then pass on. Later, you can bury it or frame it.
Life and Death
Butterflies don’t live long. After 3 weeks they will be tattered and tired. With luck they will have fulfilled their destiny by producing eggs. Discuss the inevitability of the death of the butterflies and that it is not caused by captivity or the result of any failing on the part of the caregivers. Butterflies just don’t live very long.
We always recommend releases them after a few days after they emerge.