Frequently Asked Questions...

A number of queries tend to come up rather regularly; please check through these if you have a question for us before dropping us a line:

  1. Dead, Dried or Mounted Butterflies
  2. Other Invertebrates
  3. Weddings
  4. Collecting Pupae from Us
  5. C.I.T.E.S species
  6. Butterflies for Release
  7. Purchasing Eggs, Caterpillars or Butterflies
  8. Non-tropical Species
  9. Moths
  10. Butterfly Lifespan
  11. Butterfly "Pupaspan"
  12. Foodplants
  13. Consultations
  14. Kits, Emerging Cages and Other Equipment
  15. Sexing of Pupae
  16. Papronet
  17. Photography

[Note: London Pupae Supplies has no affiliation with any companies or websites linked to or referenced and cannot vouch for any products offered therein]

Dead, Dried or Mounted Butterflies

London Pupae Supplies is a supplier of butterfly pupae only (and only tropical species at that!). Whether for artistic endeavours, collections or other reasons, we do not supply dead butterflies, dried specimens or mounted specimens but deal only with the live pupae (this is the only stage in the butterfly lifecycle that is effectively inert and reasonably robust, so can be transported without damage or stress).

There are a variety of places which will sell dried specimens: check here for some possibilities.


Other Invertebrates

As noted above, we only sell butterfly species and only as pupae. Beetles, scorpions, ants, locusts, phasmids and other exotica do not come under our range, although we do sell a book on the subject of keeping them.


This is something we are asked about on a regular basis! Particularly in the USA, butterflies are often released at weddings (by guests, usually) as a spectacular showpiece.

We do not sell butterflies for this purpose and, since we only sell butterflies in the pupa form, tropical conditions would need to be created to get the butterflies to emerge anyway - rather a lot of work when planning a wedding!

On the whole, indigenous species are used for this sort of release - see the comments under the release FAQ.

If your intention is to release butterflies for a wedding either in Europe or North America, then these may be useful links:
Butterfly Connections - butterflies for release in the UK.
Gribbly Bugs - painted ladies for release in the UK.
Pupa Pavillon -Butterflies for release. in Switzerland and other European countries )
Butterfly Events (Monarch butterfly releases in the US only)
Butterfly Celebration (Painted Lady butterflies for release in Europe or the US)

Collecting Pupae from Us

This is not a possibility, sorry! Our premises in the UK are really just a hub for quickly moving butterfly pupae from our breeders to our customers in the shortest time possible. We do not have any exhibition, nor any "shop front" so all shipments need to be made by post or courier.


C.I.T.E.S species

London Pupae Supplies do not trade any species that are protected by C.I.T.E.S. regulations (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It is possible to trade some of these species if the necessary paperwork is filled out but it is our feeling that there is no need fulfilled by this and there are plenty of other beautiful species that are not covered by the C.I.T.E.S. regulations.

You can find out more about C.I.T.E.S here.

Butterflies for Release

Purchase of butterflies for release is most usually requested for weddings but occasionally other reasons are proffered. The first and most relevant factor is that we only sell butterfly pupae, which means that they need to be emerged into butterflies before they could be released. This requires some expertise and also specialist equipment as all the species we sell are tropical in nature.

Beyond this factor however, is the fact that the species are tropical. Most requests for butterflies for release come from non-tropical regions so the butterflies are simply not suitable. In the first instance without tropical heat and humidity they would not survive well and from the point of view of the wedding, they would be unlikely to "perform".

Furthermore, as far as the UK is concerned, the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, prohibits release of species into the wild which are not indigenous or natural, wild visitors. See here.

As this legislation implements the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, this is likely to be the same in all EU countries.



Purchasing Eggs, Caterpillars or Butterflies

We receive a number of requests for caterpillars, eggs or butterflies that we have to decline. We sell only butterflies in the pupa or cocoon form; this is the only form at which they are transportable.

Non-tropical Species

We did once trade some indigenous species such as Tortoiseshells, the Camberwell Beauty and so on. We no longer do so however. The only species we now trade are tropical varieties - a full list is in our catalogue and there is a list of the species available now here.



We do trade some species of moths, although the range is limited, over 98% of our stock being butterflies. Our catalogue has the list of species that we might have over a year, although in truth the most frequently available is Attacus atlas.

Any species we might have are always going to be tropical in origin but speculative inquiries for Death's Head Hawk moths and other such unlisted varieties are a bit pointless!

Butterfly Lifespan

The lifespan of butterflies depends on the species in question and, of course, the conditions they are kept in (and whether they hibernate or not, which is not taken into account here). Generally speaking, there are two types of butterfly (as far as longevity is concerned).

Firstly there are the species that only consume nectar - these are species like papilios and nymphalidae. Nectar is purely an energy source and consequently the lifespans of these species are short - sometimes as low as a week but usually up to three or more in good conditions.

The second type are those that feed on both nectar and pollen; pollen is a protein source so allows some rejuvenation of body tissue and thus these species live longer, around three months or so as a general guide. This category is filled by species like heliconidae.

Butterfly "Pupaspan"

Much like the lifespan of a butterfly, the length of time the pupae stays as a pupa varies from species to species. The span can be increased by keeping the pupae cool (relative to tropical temperatures) and retarding their transformation, however, this must be done carefully - making the pupae cold or putting them in a fridge will likely kill them and should never be done.

Some species will only be pupae for three or four days, which makes them almost impossible to trade as they need to get from breeder to London Pupae Supplies and then on to a customer. On average, though, most pupae we trade will be pupae for around a week to ten days, perhaps longer for some papilios. Customers would thus expect butterflies to be emerging, given the correct conditions, between 1 and 5 days from receipt of pupae.

Note that there are exceptions to this with diapause pupae which are essentially pupae in a hibernating form. These can be refrigerated but on exposure to tropical conditions will resume metamorphosis. Nevertheless, the diapause form of Attacus atlas, for instance, can stay a cocoon for many months.


For breeding purposes, different species of caterpillars feed on different plants so many plants might be needed - and then further plants are needed to provide nectar source for butterflies.

London Pupae Supplies cannot provide foodplants and have no dealings with places which may. Please note that some plant species may require import permits.
NOTE: depending where plants are purchased, soil may contain insecticides which would be harmful to butterflies!


Although we receive a number of requests for advice regarding construction of tropical greenhouses, what species to start breeding with and so on, we are unable to enter into dialogue on these matters. It is very difficult to offer consultation services (especially free!) when we cannot know the specific situation of each individual or their current level of knowledge. In this situation, the best advice is to read a book on the subject, of which there are a number (some are here). Another option is to visit your nearest exhibition to see how they do things and ask advice of the keepers if they are willing - advice is more clear when you can see what is meant by example!

Kits, Emerging Cages and Other Equipment

London Pupae Supplies do not sell any of the peripheral material for breeding or keeping butterflies - this is mostly because over 90% of our customer base is in exhibitions and zoos, so they already have all the equipment they need.

However, for the enthusiast, we do have a hopefully useful description of an emerging cage here.

Kits for breeding or attracting butterflies and other equipment can be found on the internet; these are a few options:
Insect Lore (US), Insect Lore (Europe), Green Gardener (UK)

Sexing of Pupae

Although it is possible to do this (see this example out of interest) it is not possible for all species and is, in any case, too time-consuming.

If breeding is to be attempted, we cannot guarantee orders such as "5 males and 5 females", statistical chance will have to be relied upon!


We do not sell equipment for keeping tropical butterflies but if any are in need of papronet, then it can currently be purchased on e-Bay. Further details at PaproNet.



We have no exhibition for our butterflies, so cannot offer facility for photographers to take pictures. Inevitably, some of our pupae do emerge on site but they are then taken to the London Butterfly House to be released; it is exhibitions like this where enquiries regarding photography should be directed.