Earlier this fall, I noticed my Passiflora was covered with orange & black caterpillars. Not wanting them to completely eat my vine, I tried to get rid of them only to learn they were Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillars. I put the spray away and started watching them as they foraged the Passion Flower. You might know the Passion Flower vine as a “Maypop”. It’s the host plant for Gulf Fritillaries.
In October we went to a Butterfly & Hummingbird festival in Folsom, LA and I was inspired to try to raise a few butterflies.
I did some online research and came across a site that shows how to make a simple butterfly house from net so I gathered the necessary materials. I used 14″ cardboard cake rounds for the top & bottom of the house. We cut several vines from the Passion Flower vine and placed them in a closed container of water in the house and arranged them on the branches we had placed inside.
I wasn’t too sure I could manage the next task but actually it wasn’t too bad. I collected several caterpillars and placed them on the leaves & vines inside their new home….Casa de Papillion. Over the next several days I added more caterpillars and even watched the butterflies lay eggs on the Passion Flower so I could move some of those also.
When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are smaller than most ants. Of course we never got to actually see eggs hatch but we would see the remnants of eggs.
We wound up with a little over 20 caterpillars in the house. Only one is still a caterpillar. The others formed their chrysalis.
Sunday, we awoke to find our first hatched butterfly. That afternoon we made a butterfly house for my niece Faith. She put 5 caterpillars in it and she already has 2 in chrysalis stage.
Today, the sixth butterfly in Casa de Papillion has hatched. I leave them in their home until the following day and then release them onto a Pentas flower head outside. They sit in the sun for a while and pump their wings before taking flight.
This has been so much fun. I encourage you to try your hand at raising butterflies. Here’s the butterfly I released yesterday.