How to Make a
Text and Pictures by Bea Laporte butterfly
Materials needed for making a butterfly rearing containing

The materials you will need are: scissors, an empty, clear 2-litre pop bottle, an old nylon, an elastic band, a cleaned out sour cream or margarine container, a pencil or something else to punch a hole in the container, a stick (for placing in the container after the caterpillar pupates, so it has a place to climb up to dry its wings).

1. Using the scissors, cut off the bottom of the pop bottle.
cutting bottom off of plastic bottle
2. Remove the cap and replace with a piece of nylon, kept on with the elastic. This is to allow your caterpillar to get air.
working on plastic bottle

3. Use the pencil to punch a hole in the middle of the lid of your container. Then fill with water.

punching a pencil through a plastic bottle

4. Look for a caterpillar on its host plant (or an egg). Cut the whole branch or leaf off at a size that can fit into your container and place the stem through the hole in your lid, making sure it sticks into the water. If the host plant is near you, replace with fresh leaves every day, if not be sure to collect extra leaves or branches and keep them in a container with water or put in a baggie, mist and keep in the fridge.

leaf for bottle

Now you have your very own caterpillar rearing container!
(Please note: although this container can be used for rearing moth caterpillars, it is not suitable for moths that pupate in soil.)

finished product

The larvae do not need water because they get all they need from the leaves of their host plant.

Clean out the droppings (frass) and wash the containers at least twice a week, being careful not to hurt the caterpillar.

Once a pupa, a frequent misting will be necessary to keep it from drying out.

Don’t forget to keep notes and dates! You may even want to make drawings or diagrams or take pictures of the caterpillar’s different colors and features of each instar. If you don’t already know, see if you can figure out what kind of caterpillar you have. You can do this by checking a Caterpillar Guide, or you can go on the internet. Here are a few websites that may be able to help you ID your caterpillar:

You may be interested in reviewing books about caterpillars available at in the US, Canada and the UK by clicking here.