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How to make a Butterfly House or Habitat



Raising butterflies is a wonderful project. And it is pretty easy to do. You can buy a habitat for your butterflies or you can easily make one with a few simple materials. In this tutorial I show you how to make a nice little observation habitat out of a cardboard box, some screen and some masking tape. Pretty much as simple as that. After that you just need to get your caterpillars!


There are lots of different ways to make a butterfly house and the way I describe here is the kind of house that you keep indoors so you can watch your butterflies develop and transform through the various stages of their life.

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

Here is a look at the finished butterfly house:


What you will need for this project:

  • 1 cardboard Box (at least 1 foot in each direction, bigger gives more room to the butterflies.
  • Duct tape
  • A few feet of screen. Screen like on a window or door. The screen has to be able to hold in crawling caterpillars while allowing to to easily look through it.
  • A utility knife for cutting cardboard
  • A couple of long branches or twigs for the caterpillars to climb up


Let's Get Started

Cut the short flaps off the box lid. This is the top of your butterfly box so you don't want these smaller flaps to hang inside. The caterpillars could climb up there and into a space you can't see. Removing these two smaller flaps insures you just have a flat surface on the top.


Cut the front and back out of the box. Leave about one inch all the way around these cut out holes. You will be placing screens over these holes you have cut out.


Cut a door in the side

Cut a door in the side of the box. It should be large enough for you to reach your hand inside. This is so you can put things in and take things out of the butterfly box.

In this picture you see there is a square drawn. This is the door. The three solid lines you cut. You do not cut the dotted line. This dotted line acts as a hinge.


Place the screen

Cut your screen to be larger than the opening, place it in the box over the opening you cut. Then tape it down securely.

Do this on both the front and back openings you cut.

Now tape the top closed.


Butterfly Box

And there you go! Congratulations your butterfly box is complete.


I don't currently have any butterflies so I made some origami butterflies and origami flowers and put them inside :)


If you want to make an origami butterfly for your box I have a tutorial here: How to make an Origami Butterfly


Getting and Caring for your butterflies.

You can order Painted Lady Caterpillars in the mail through a company called InsectLore.com If you want to know more about this I have done it and have a page with pictures and information about the whole process, what you do, how long it takes and how the butterflies come out: Butterflies

But you can also get some yourself in the spring time by scouring around in patches of woods for caterpillars.

  • It might be difficult to know what kind of butterflies or moths you will end up with but it is worth trying. It will cost nothing. So look around on trees, leaves and bushes for caterpillars. And note what kind of plant they are on because this is probably what they feed on. So you take the caterpillars along with some twigs and leaves from the bush or tree and you place this all in your butterfly box. Remember where this tree or bush was because you might have to return to it in a few days to get more leaves for the caterpillars to eat.
  • Note if the caterpillars are eating the leaves. if after a day or two they are not you may have to return them outside and get some different caterpillars. Or try a different type of leaf for them to try and feed on.
  • If all goes well and they are eating soon they will climb up the side of the box or toward the top of the twigs and transform into cocoons or chrysalids!
  • And in 7-10 days they should emerge as butterflies or possibly moths. Now, if they are butterflies you can feed them sugared water. Mix 3 teaspoons of sugar in 1 cup of water then sprinkle this on cut flowers and place in your butterfly box. Or you can soak a paper towel in this and place that on a dish in your box. Alternatively, lots of types of butterflies like cut oranges or cut watermelon so you can try putting one of those in the box.
  • Some butterflies only live two weeks while others can live up to a year. If you can't research and identify your exact type of butterfly you should only keep them for a few days then release them outside.


Butterfly Resources



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

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