This page is to provide a little necessary information about just how one can breed butterflies and moths. Actually, if you catch a female flying, it has probably already mated. From that point, you need a large cage with suitable host plant for that particular species’ young. On “butterfly farms” the cage may be a large bag made of remay fabric (fine netting) placed over a small bush or tree of the host plant and tied tightly around the trunk. The female can be placed inside this enclosure. At “The Butterfly Farm Costa Rica” the enclosed area was a large screened area planted with many small trees and bushes. In the butterfly exhibits we see in the U.S. the butterflies are able to fly and mate, but are not provided with plants their young can eat. Therefore, these are not breeding areas, only exhibits.
Now, for practical suggestions if you want to have the fun experience of watching an egg hatch into a caterpillar, grow, become a pupa, and eventually a butterfly or moth.
- Look for eggs or caterpillars on plants where you see some evidence of caterpillars eating
- Look for eggs where you see a female resting on a leaf of a known host plant, e.g. a monarch on milkweed or a black swallowtail on parsley.
- Start with a cocoon of any of our native silk moths (female, of course,) and have the added fun of watching her draw males in to mate with her. Warning, she may lay hundreds of eggs!