I never imagined raising butterflies would be such a magical experience. But then a couple of years ago, we decided to give it a try. It was a huge success. I’d never seen my kids so engaged with nature. Morning, noon and night, they would check on their caterpillars and then chrysalises, waiting for them to turn into butterflies. (This is my daughter showing off a newly hatched painted lady.) It was such a great experience that I now teach a regular class about gardening for butterflies with my local rec department. And one of the highlights of the class is that every kid gets to take home a caterpillar to raise on their own. I
If you want to raise a butterfly, I encourage you to head outside and look for caterpillars, chrysalises and eggs on your garden plants. Keep in mind that specific caterpillars have specific diet requirements. For example, monarchs only eat milkweed, so if you’re looking for a monarch egg or caterpillar, look on the underside of milkweed leaves. Then be sure to feed them milkweed until they make their chrysalises.
Of course, if you can’t find an egg or caterpillar to raise, you can always buy a butterfly kit online. My favorite source is Carolina Biological Supply. They have great material, offer good information and at least from my personal experience, my caterpillars have more than a 90% survival rate. (Less reputable companies can have a lot of caterpillars die, so be sure to read reviews and do your research.)
The entire process of raising a butterfly generally takes a few weeks. You have to have a little patience, but it’s definitely worth it. Good luck!