A gathering place for the Art of Gardening and Natures Beauty

Gardens of Etsy is a gathering space for artisans and friends.
A viewing point for natures beauty.
A place for inspiration.
We fill our gardens with not only plants and love but enhance them with our arts and crafts.
We bring the outdoors in by filling our homes with our nature inspired works of art.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to care butterfly cycle

I have been working on making a Butterfly Garden in my yard since 2009. I have seen 28 kinds of butterfly in the garden this year!!! The most important part of my butterfly garden is making a good environment for a butterfly's life cycle. Two kinds of butterflies, Black Swallowtail and Wild Indigo Dusckywing, laid eggs and spent their cycle in my garden this year! When I found butterfly larvae, I put them into an insect cage or surrounded the plants where I found the larvae with chicken wire and covered the wire with mesh fabric like this picture.

This is an Indigo blue plant. I couldn't bring Wild Indigo Dusckywing larvae into insect cage, because I had only one plant. I didn't have enough to feed them in the cage constantly. That's why I decided to leave them outside and use the wire and fabric.
Ten or more Wild Indigo pupae turned into butterflies!

I need to protect the butterfly larvae because I'm feeding birds in my yard. Butterfly larvae can't survive without protections in my yard.

Black Swallowtail laid eggs on my husband Fennel and Parsley. Fortunately, we had enough plants to feed the larvae in a insect cage. I put the larvae into the cage, and took care of them until they tuned into butterflies. :)
I'm going to share what I learned from taking care of Black Swallowtail.

This Black Swallowtail is laying eggs on a parsley plant.

The egg is the tiny white spot on the leaf in the middle of the picture.

I learned that Black Swallowtail larva has five instars. An instar is a developmental stage of arthropods, such as insects, between each molt, until sexual maturity is reached.

  This is not good picture, but you can see how small first instar stage of the larva is.

Look at the small black larva. This is the second instar stage. A white line appeared on the center of the body.

Third instar stage. A lot of horns appeared on it's back.

Fourth instar stage. Body color turned green. You still see the horns on it's back

Fifty instar stage. The horns disappeared. It's almost ready to turn into a pupa.

It's about to turn into a pupa.  There is a fine silk line surrounding the body and the branch.

These are two differently colored Black Swallowtail pupae.


The Black Swallowtail pupae may be green or brown, but not depending on surroundings or what they have pupated on. The color of the chrysalis is determined by a local genetic balance that ensures the majority of pupae will blend in.

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar has an orange "forked gland", called the osmeterium. When in danger the osmeterium, which looks like a snake's tongue, and releases a foul smell to repel predators. I saw the osmeterium on even first instar stage of larva.

I had six Black Swallowtail pupae, and only one pupa turned into a butterfly. 

 This is a female. Her right tail is not open completely yet. 
She took a rest a while on my hand until her wings completely open.

If you take care of butterfly cycle, you can have them climb on your hand!!! I did same thing with Wild Indigo Dusckywing. That was awesome!

Kentucky, where I live, got cold weather in September, so most pupae couldn't turn into butterflies. However, a Garden Club member (I belong to Glasgow Garden Club in KY) told me that Black Swallowtail pupa can over winter, and they can turn into a butterfly. I'll keep my pupae in the garage until next spring. I look forward to seeing that my pupae turn into butterflies next spring. :)

I'm sharing my butterfly pictures, which I took in my garden, on my Facebook page. If you are interested in which butterflies you can see in my garden, search "hummingbird_kj2010@yahoo.com" on Facebook, and please send a friend request. :) My Facebook page is not published to all people.



  1. I adore Butterflies ~ Our "Fluttering Flowers", This is fascinating! Truly amazing how they can survive over winter! A Wonderful article Kazumi ~ Thank you for sharing!

  2. Really great read! Thanks for sharing. My daughter's first "big" word was every mispronunciation of butterfly. She loves to go the park!

  3. Beautiful! I'd love to find you on facebook but the info you gave doesn't find anything....

  4. Thank you for your compliments, guys!
    I'll keep working on learning about butterflies, and will share what I learn. :)

  5. Wonderful information and photos! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. If you would like to find me on FB, please search "Kazumi Arnold, Cave City, KY". :)