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To put it quite simply butterflies are amazing creatures. They go through that amazing metamorphosis that we all know about. There are other insects that do this too but, partially because of the amazing beauty of the adult butterly it is something we remember in butterflies.


It is also a theme that is often cited and used with real meaning. Going into a cocoon as a caterpillar and coming out as a butterfly is a phrase of import.

Anyway, This is about butterflies and a little bit about a project I have done with them.

I purchased a butterfly garden at a local toy store and I ordered my butterflies through the mail. You might be familiar with the process. You send inn a letter and they send you back several caterpillars that will soon go through the transformation that butterflies are so famous for.

Butterflies - How to make a butterfly box - the life cycle of the butterfly - About the Painted Lady Butterfly

A Painted Lady Butterfly


The LifeCycle of a Butterfly

There are four stages in the life cycle of a butterfly: Egg, Larva (Caterpillar) , Pupa (chrysalis or cocoon) , adult (Butterfly)

  • Egg Stage - It all starts out with an egg and this stage will last a couple of weeks unless the egg is laid close to winter. If so it goes into a dormant stage for the winter and hatches in the spring.
  • The larva stage - This is the caterpillar stage.In this stage the caterpillar spends most of its time eating and in search of food which is typically made up of plant leaves. After a period of time as a caterpillar it stops eating and finds a good spot, usually under a leaf, to attach itself and turn into a pupu (chrysalid) The length of time they stay in this stage will vary but it is often between 10 - 14 days.
  • The Pupa Stage - This is the cyrysalis stage where the caterpillar transforms itself into a butterfly. This stage usually lasts 7 - 10 days. After this time it will emerge from the chrysalid as a butterfly.
  • The Butterfly stage - This is the adult stage of the insect and during this stage they will feed on plant nectar and with some species on flower pollen. Depending on the species they can live between 1 month and a full year. They will mate and lay eggs thus continuing the cycle.


butterfly chrysalid

This is the chrysalid stage of the Tree nymph butterfly found in Japan. It is also called the Rice Paper Butterfly. It has an amazing golden color.


Insect Lore Original Butterfly Garden with Voucher

Witness one of nature's most spectacular transformations up close with this reusable, collapsible habitat. Fine, transparent mesh lets you see butterfly metamorphosis up close. Product includes easy-to-use feeder and complete instructions for habitat. Butterfly larvae with food shipped directly to your home. The habitat collapses for storage when not in use. You can adopt and raise a handful of caterpillars, watch them transform into painted lady butterflies, then lift the garden cover to release your beautiful specimens into the wild. This exciting habitat makes a fabulous introduction to the miracles of nature. The larvae and food available round the year.


More kits like this are at the bottom of the page.


I will give you information about butterflies and the life cycle of butterflies but first a few things you might be interested in.

  • When you buy a product like this in the store it doesn't come with any caterpillars, of course. You do get a mailable envelope so you can order your batch though and it cost a few dollars for shipping and handling. I think it was 3 dollars but I am not sure. You also have the option of getting your caterpillars roughly at a certain date. So if you don't want them immediately you can specify for them to be delivered at a point in the future. This is a nice option.
  • You get a plastic cup with five caterpillars. It also has all the food you need so you don't have to do anything but watch them.
  • Feeding them: Once they have hatched into butterflies you can feed them by mixing a little bit of sugar with water and sprinkle that on some flowers or wet a paper towel with it. You can also feed them slices of orange.


The box

This is the package I got in the mail.

Painted Ladies

This is the container with the butterflies (Painted Ladies) and the food.


The butterflies

Here are the butterflies attaching themselves to the top of the container and in the process of transforming into chrysalids.


A painted lady butterfly

And here is one of the painted lady butterflies.


The bio diorama

I took the butterfly hatching a step further and created a diorama for them. Once the caterpillars attached themselves to the underside of the lid of the container I removed the lid and inserted it into the diorama. You can see the chrysalids hanging from the ceiling,. It is a cave scene with a little adventurer that has stumbled upon them. You can see more about this particular project here: The Butterfly Bio Diorama


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Butterfly Resources



Live butterfly habitat

Live Butterfly Garden Habitat & Discovery Kit by Insect lore with free Monarch Butterfly of Aster Way Book (Smithsonian's Backyard)

  • See butterfly metamorphosis up close.Reusable, collapsible habitat.
  • Includes feeder.Complete instructions included. Just mail in the included coupon for larvae & food.
  • Includes mail-in voucher for five butterfly larvae and special food.
  • Witness one of nature's most spectacular transformations up close.
  • FREE Monarch Butterfly of Aster Way Book (Smithsonian's Backyard)


Butterfly book

From Caterpillar to Butterfly (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1)