How do I rear a caterpillar?

Rearing lepidoptera larvae is fun and simple. Here’s how to do it.

Watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly or moth and release it back into the wild. © Chris Gomersall
1

Find a container

Any ventilated container large enough for a few stems of greenery will do.

Advertisement

A jam-jar or margarine tub is ideal, or even a cardboard box with two sides replaced with muslin.

Alternatively, use a muslin or net bag to enclose a caterpillar on an area of a plant.

This keeps it contained, but allows it to feed naturally.

2

Create a home

Line your container with kitchen towel to absorb moisture, and introduce a few stems from the plant on which you found the larva.

Replace these at least every couple of days.

Add a layer of soil in case your species pupates by burrowing, and a twig for the adult to climb and expand its wings.

Place your caterpillar inside then put the container in a cool spot out of direct sunlight.

The larva will feed until fully grown, then will pupate.

3

Keep it clean

Remove droppings (‘frass’) and old, dead leaves.

Advertisement

It will take at least a few months for the adult to emerge – release it where you found the larva.