Sunday, August 5, 2012

Butterfly House………..a new look

Sometimes we learn things the hard way…..I needed plants to feed the caterpillars that I had and picked up 3 plants for them.

Once all the old plants were gone I moved them to the new plants. Several hours later I noticed 4 large caterpillars writhing around on the soil. I’ve never had that happen before so figured the plants had been sprayed with insecticide. I lost over 40 caterpillars. Several died within a few days and the rest continued to eat and grow (new plants) and then go to the top and into “J’s”. Unfortunately that is as far as they got. Evidently the poison messed up their systems. They would start to shed and then die.

I did a lot of researching to make sure I wasn’t blaming plants when it could be disease. In the process I read that extreme heat can be a problem.

My screen room gets the late afternoon sun and it can get very hot. The original butterfly house was tall and near the ceiling. So….to be on the safe side, Jim cut a couple of feet off the bottom of it, turned it upside down, put a new top on it and legs. It needed to be higher off the floor.


It still has room for Giant Milkweed. I had to purchase 2. The 12 Tropical Milkweed plants that I bought as food for the caterpillars that had been on the poison plants had lots of little caterpillars. I thought there were only 2 dozen…but I now have over 40.


And they are no longer little…


I let them all travel to one Giant Milkweed yesterday and then when I cleaned out the cage this morning I put in the second. I hope by the time they eat these up, the  plants I have in pots in the ground will be leafed out more.

A few of these have already gone to the top.

I am still convinced the plants were sprayed but didn’t want to take a chance. I scrubbed the whole cage with water and bleach…..let it soak then rinsed it. Once it was dry we did the remodel.

Jim also put wheels on it and I can move it around much easier. I really like the look, and it holds the same amount of plants.

When you buy milkweed, look for aphids. If there are a few on it, the plant is probably OK. Sometimes the store doesn’t know if they’ve been sprayed or not.

I love having the butterflies….but the growing process of the caterpillars is what fascinates me the most.



  1. I hope that you have found the problem as I love watching your photos of the life changes in the caterpillars to butterflies. Have a good day Diane

  2. Whoa, what a terrible thing to loose so many caterpillars. Wouldn't be surprised if the plants had been sprayed with something. Like the new design.

  3. Sad to lose all those caterpillars Carol, but it seems you've solved the problem now.
    Love the new 'house'. Jim's a clever man.

  4. I'm so envious! We haven't had many butterflies at all this year, and I don't think I've seen a single monarch! I tried raising them two years ago, and even purchased the milkweed plant from the caterpillar supplier. We still had complete failure with the caterpillars. A volunteer at our local butterfly habitat told me it had been a bad year for that disease (whatever it's called.) I hope you will have great success!

    I love your butterfly house!

  5. Hi I know this is a very old thread and am sorry if its not active. My wife really loves your cage. Do you have the plans or dimensions for it? She would like me to build her one.
    Don in CA


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