Caring for the Pupae...


Generally, speaking, pupae that arrive by courier or post are packed in cotton wool, in a polystyrene box wrapped in card. This suffices for all journeys we have experienced, unless the package is mistreated.

The first thing to do is unpack the pupae, being careful to remove all traces of the cotton wool as this can cause problems for the emerging adult. You must, of course, have some source of food for the butterflies - nectar (or a dilute sugar solution) for many, rotting fruit for some, etc. If you are aiming to breed the butterflies, you must have ample foodstock for the caterpillars - the important thing here is getting the species of plant correct!

Assuming all this is okay, the next thing to do is to prepare the chrysalides for emergence.

Sticking Pupae for Emergence

Lengths of dowelling or split cane can be used (or just a straight-ish stick, at a push!) combined with evo stick glue (or silicone based aquarium sealant, for instance). If the silk thread on the abdomen of the pupae is intact, this can be used to suspend the pupa. If not, the pupa is then attached to the cane with a small (this is the important bit regarding glue - small) spot of glue on the abdomen

If glue is used, allow to set for 1-2 hours then the canes with fixed pupae can be suspended for emergence in the cage (or other suitable area you have set aside).

All pupae will emerge successfully in this manner, although some can simply be laid flat on moss or damp coir (coconut fibre)- all Papillonidae and some Pieridae will emerge in this way.

Note: Large, heavy pupae of Hawk and Silkmoths (without cocoons) should never be suspended.


Environmental Conditions

The best scenario is to use an emerging cage, but if this is not possible, just creating good conditions will usually suffice - in the wild, larvae of the butterflies will select the optimum place to safely metamorphose; the emerging cage provides this place for them. More relevantly, the conditions required are:

1. A constant temperature, ideally 27-29 degrees centigrade.

2. A constant and high level of humidity (80%+).

3. Protection from direct sunlight or other harsh conditions (draughts, etc).

4. Protection from predators.


The Emerging Cage, a diagrammatic example

Wooden Frames Thermostat Heater Cable Pupae Rods Sides Front Door Slats

  1. 1. Thermostat
    Ideal temperature: 27 degrees centigrade.
  2. 2. A horticultural heater cable
    This is controlled by the the thermostat (1). The base should consist of a movable tray filled with moist sand.
  3. 3. Pupae rods
    Small canes, dowelling - available at any garden centre.
  4. 4. Slats
    Used to support the pupae rods. They should be screwed to the side walls and there should be a vertical gap of at least 4 inches. 4 or 5 rods may be positioned on each horizontal support.
  5. 5. Wooden Frame
    Use 1.5" x 1.5" pine for preference.
  6. 6. Front
    Made from clear perspex; hinged and lockable.
  7. 7. Sides
    Use conti board or opaque perspex screwed to the frame. Trap papronet or netlon shading between the sides and frame; this will provide the emerged butterflies with a foothold (they will tend to search for the highest spot and congregate on the ceiling of the emerging cage).