This page is to provide information needed to care for the third stage in the life cycle of butterflies and moths.  Since some will be at this stage for only a few weeks in the summer, they only need to be protected from predators and from excessive heat due to direct sunlight exposure.  A secure cage such as a screen covered aquarium placed out of direct sun or covered with black landscape fabric works well for this purpose.

For caterpillars which overwinter as pupae, though, some provision needs to be made for safe storage in cooler temperatures.  Since I have an extra refrigerator in my basement, this need is easily met by storing cocoons and tissue wrapped pupae in the vegetable crisper of that frig, temperature maintained at around 38 degrees.  I store them in the same plastic sandwich tubs I used for keeping newly hatched caterpillars earlier.  I don’t place them in the refrigerator until the temperature outside has begun to be consistently cool, usually around late October here.  This is probably a good place to mention the difference between provision for “earth pupators” ,  cocoon spinners, and butterflies which simply find a good spot to fasten a chrysalis to and then just “hang out” until  that last caterpillar skin comes off.

Those cocoon spinners generally wrap themselves up in leaves and line and fasten those with silk.  The “earth pupators” can be placed in a plastic tub with loose paper towels to burrow under.  Since pictures are really more informative than words, I’ll attach a few photos here to show you what I mean.