Background Information by Carolina Biological Supply
The painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) is one of the most popular insects to raise on your own. The caterpillars are small, inexpensive, easily raised at home, and are available year-round. Since the butterfly is cultured (raised) rather than collected from nature, educational use of this insect does not deplete wild populations. Commonly found throughout North America, the painted lady butterfly should not harm native wildlife and local ecosystems when released.
The painted lady butterfly undergoes complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, adult) in about a month. Adult butterflies can live for about 2–4 weeks, during which they mate and lay eggs.
While the caterpillars and butterflies can withstand a fairly wide temperature range, it is best to keep them at room temperature. Be sure to keep all stages of the developing butterfly out of windows or direct sunlight. Excessive heat can kill them. You may feed your caterpillars plant material, or you can raise them to the pupal stage on an artificial diet produced by the supplier
The plants preferred by painted lady caterpillars include mallow (in the hollyhock family) and thistle (a prickly weed). The caterpillars may also eat other plants, such as dandelion greens.
Adult butterflies have a coiled, straw-like tongue, called a proboscis, used to siphon nectar from flowers. Adult butterflies require liquid food. Place a small dish with sugar water and a sponge into the container to feed the butterflies. The sponge prevents the butterflies from falling into the water and drowning.
The Butterfly Pavilion combines science education with interactive fun to teach visitors about invertebrates and conservation. Our five immersive exhibits, including our rainforest filled with 1,600 free-flying tropical butterflies, provide a year-round, unforgettable experience. Visitors can get up close and personal with live animals, enjoy daily educational programs, explore the wonder of the outdoors on the nature trail, and discover the newest traveling exhibit. Butterflies are just the beginning.
6252 West 104th Ave. Westminster, CO 80020 • Map it