Follow Us
Monarch Butterflies Logo

Caterpillar – Build a Painted Lady Butterfly Raising Kit Instructions

Congratulations on receiving your Caterpillar – Build a Painted Lady Raising Kit! We are so glad you chose us to embark on this special journey with! For your help and guidance we have created the below information page that hosts the information you need to raise and release your butterflies with the utmost care. We understand that not everyone enjoys reading which is why we also have created a 10 minute instructional video along with the steps below. The video is kid friendly and we highly recommend that an adult read the instructions and watch the video to gain a full comprehensive understanding of the steps taken. On our website you can also find a FAQ page, more information and Blog Posts about related material. 

If you would like to order a Caterpillar – Build a Painted Lady Raising Kit click here. If you would like to see the steps with the detailed breakdown on how to order the kit please visit the blog post – How to order a Caterpillar – Build a Painted Lady Raising Kit.


Table of Contents  

1. Box and Setup

      a. What is included in your package

      b. Unboxing

      c. Set up

2. Stages of Growth 

      a. Caterpillar stages of growth 

      b. Cleaning and Care

      c. Steps to take during growth

3. Butterfly Pupation – Chrysalis

   a. What to expect during pupation 

   b. What to do during pupation

4. Setting up the Net Cage

5. Transferring Pupa to the Net Cage 

6. Hatching 

7. Releasing

8. Butterfly Feeding 

9. Emergency issues 

      a. What can go wrong & what to do

      b. Claims Form

10. Helpful Links

11. Thank you and Contact Information

1. Box and Setup

A. What is included in your package

Every package is customized to your order and will vary based on your selections and quantity. If you purchased a Caterpillar – Build Painted Lady Butterfly Raising Kit, it may include: 

  • Caterpillars in cups with their artificial diet (1 or 5 caterpillars per cup)
  • Hygiene Brush for cleaning 
  • Instructions – also containing QR Code with a full set of instructions
  • Poem/Thank you Letter – Double Sided
  • Small Net Cage or Large Net Cage 

B. Unboxing

  1. When your caterpillars first arrive, safely inspect your package to ensure there is no physical damage to the box. *Please take pictures of any damage you may notice*
  2. Open the box and remove the contents. Carefully place the caterpillar cups on a clean, dry, flat surface in a room-temperature room, free of any chemical cleaners or other unnatural substances. Away from direct sunlight. 

C. Set up 

    1. Carefully inspect the lid of the cup to ensure there are 1-2 tiny holes for airflow. If for some reason you do not see these holes, please use a needle smaller than the caterpillar to make these holes to ensure they do not escape. Although there is enough air in the cups for the caterpillar to survive, these tiny holes provide additional circulation
    2. Within each plastic cup you will find either a single caterpillar or five caterpillars inside – depending on your order specifications. Each plastic cup provided has a tissue paper liner beneath the lid. At the base of each cup, you’ll find an artificial diet that serves as the complete food source for nurturing your caterpillars. Throughout the growth process, please keep the lids closed with the tissue paper liner in place at the top of the cup. If left open, the food will dry out and become inedible for the caterpillars.
    3. Place caterpillar cups, the folded net (you wont need this right away), the instructions and the hygiene brush in a safe space in your home that is away from direct sunlight. 
    4. You are done! Congratulations, you have now completed the initial setup. You will need to clean (see below in “stages of growth”) your caterpillar cups and follow steps 5 & 6 (Setting up Net Cage & Transferring Pupa to Net Cage) when your caterpillar enters the pupa stage. 


2. Stages of Growth

A. Caterpillars stages of growth 

The larvae you receive are in their caterpillar stage, having hatched from an egg laid by a Butterfly. Painted Lady Caterpillars have 5 stages of their growth cycle, each known as instars; each instar is indicated by skin shedding. Their shed skin will appear as small black balled pieces in the cup. The final instar is when the caterpillar prepares to form a pupa. When a caterpillar generates a small red ball similar to the yellow/brown frass, it means they are ready to pupate and are done consuming their artificial diet. 

For comprehensive information about the complete life cycle and stages of the Painted Lady, please refer to our Blog Post – The Life Cycle of the Painted Lady (Thistle Butterfly). It’s not instructional but provides detailed insights into the stages of growth for Painted Lady Butterflies. 

B. Cleaning & Care

Every 3 days or as needed, carefully remove the lid and using the hygiene brush, delicately clean out the webbing. As the caterpillars consume their artificial diet, they will produce yellow/brown balls known as frass (caterpillar waste) as well as webbing. Both can be cleaned out using the provided hygiene brush or alternatively you can use a  Q-tip. Do not fully clean out or empty the cup at any point. Leave the caterpillars undisturbed while cleaning and do not clean around the caterpillar if it is not moving, as it may be going through an instar (growth stage) and shedding its skin.

Please note: The food has been measured for each caterpillar and they will consume it on their own. They will not run out of food. When low, the caterpillars will be near the pupa stage.

C. Steps to take during growth

Approximately one week after receiving your kit or as needed, please replace the paper liner if your larva has not already attached itself to the existing liner to pupate. You can use a paper towel to replace the paper liner. Cut a clean piece of paper towel and place it on top of the container so it covers the lid of the container. When the cup’s lid is closed, the paper towel should hang from each side and should press firmly against the cup lid and sides, not sit loosely. This new liner will prevent larvae from falling off the liner when pupation begins. If you notice the liner becoming wet from condensation or tears in the liner – replace it right away with a fresh paper towel. 

If you start to see any condensation or water vapors on the inside of your cup, please open the top to clear the condensation. Throughout this period, it is crucial to stay close to the cup, allowing the condensation to dissipate and ensuring the caterpillars stay inside the cup without any chance of escaping.


3. Butterfly Pupation – Chrysalis Stage

A. What to expect during pupation

The Chrysalis stage, also known as the pupa stage is most commonly confused with the term cocoon. Cocoon is the term used for moths, butterflies make pupas. It is perfectly normal for the caterpillars to develop into pupae at different times. The caterpillar undergoes a process where it sheds its skin, revealing the pupa, a transformation that can occur within a few brief minutes. You will observe the caterpillar making its way to the upper part of the container, clinging to the lid. It will then suspend itself in a J-shaped form before shedding its last layer of skin, unveiling the pupa.

B. What to do during pupation

During the pupation stage the insect should not be disturbed in any way and should remain still in its cup for this delicate process. It will go through the process by itself, without any outside help. It is perfectly normal for the caterpillars to develop into pupae at different times.


4. Setting up the Net Cage

For those who have purchased either a Small Net Cage or a Large Net Cage, please refer to the instructions below for guidance on setting it up.

If there are any rubber bands securing your net cage, gently take them off. Next, unwrap the plastic packaging. Pull the net cage out of its packaging, extending it from one end to the other, and place it on a flat surface.

Unzip the net cage, and place a paper towel on the bottom to protect it from the natural excrement that occurs in the hatching stage. Note that the clear plastic side is for viewing, and the bottom can be any side, as long as you can reach the zipper. 

5. Transferring Pupa to the Net Cage 

The paper liner in your cups is in place for the caterpillar to pupate and to hang from using webs they create. 24-48 hours after the caterpillar pupates and hardens, carefully remove the lid of the cup; the caterpillar should be attached to the paper liner. Then, remove the paper liner and tape it to the roof of the net cage, suspending the pupa for hatching; they do not need to all be moved at the same time. Be careful while handling the pupa during this stage. 

There may be a possibility that the pupa forms directly on the lid or on the floor of the cup, which is fine. In this case, the pupa can be transferred and placed at the bottom of the net cage. For detailed instructions please see our video instructions above in this blog post.


6. Hatching 

Temperature dependent, the pupa generally hatches in 7-12 days. The pupa requires no assistance during this process. 

Upon emerging, butterflies release a red liquid known as meconium. Rest assured, it is not blood but rather surplus fluid that is not essential to fill the wings and is therefore expelled from the butterfly. This meconium is stored in the intestine of the butterfly and is expelled after the butterfly emerges. This expulsion usually takes a few minutes, and once completed, any access excretion will drop to the bottom of the cage. When the butterfly emerges, it uses the side of the net cage as a ladder and climbs up to spread its wings and dry. 


7. Releasing

Choose a calm and sunny day for the release, as butterflies are more active in warm weather. Select a location with plenty of flowers, as butterflies are attracted to nectar. Release butterflies 1 hour after sunrise and at least 1 hour before sunset. 

Gently unzip the net cage. Allow the butterflies some time to acclimate to their surroundings. They may take a moment to flutter around, orient themselves, and gather their strength before taking flight. Refrain from handling the butterflies directly. While butterflies are delicate, the oils and substances on our skin can be harmful to them.

In the wild, painted lady butterflies have a short lifespan of approximately two weeks. This lifespan is shortened if they remain in the net cages after hatching. We encourage you to release the butterflies within 1-3 days of hatching, weather permitting.


8. Butterfly Feeding 

If you plan to release your butterflies within 48 hours of emergence, there is no need to feed them; as the proboscis (feeding tube) has not yet developed. The proboscis is like a long straw that butterflies use to drink nectar from flowers. It’s a tube that unfolds from their mouth when they land on a flower, helping them eat. 

If you plan to release the butterflies more than 48 hours after emergence, they hatch at different times or show interest in food, you can feed them within their net cage.  

The butterflies can be fed: 

  • Sugar Water (about 9 parts water to 1 part sugar) placed on a cotton ball or cotton swab within their net
  • Cut watermelon or cut orange slices that are scored to make the juice come out. 
  • Orange Gatorade placed on a cotton ball or cotton swab within their net 

Whichever form of nectar you choose, make sure to change nectar daily as it will ferment. On our website you will find a Blog Post How to Feed Your Butterflies – A Simple Guide for further information on feeding the butterflies including using organic flowers and fruits.

9. Emergency issues 

A. What can go wrong & what to do

In the wild, for every 100 butterfly eggs laid, only 1 reaches the butterfly stage. It is through our experience and following the instructions that are provided you will have a high success rate reaching the butterfly stage. Despite the high success rate, we acknowledge that not all butterflies will emerge in perfect form, and may have developmental issues including deformities and in rare occasions, death may occur. This happens commonly in the wild, however, it is not common to see when raised in an enclosure. To understand natural issues that may occur such as insect perishing, deformities, and related topics, we encourage you to look into this blog post – Embracing Imperfection: Life Lessons from Butterflies, offering valuable insights and information. Throughout the raising process you are able to access information on our website on our FAQ and Blog page for more insightful information on what to do. In the event you are unable to find your answer simply email our team at

B. Claims Form 

In case your package arrives damaged, with missing items or has other issues, you can file a claim regarding your order for our team to review, please do so here. You can also find a link to the claims form on our website, 


10. Helpful Links

  1. How to check total costs including shipping and taxes for your order
  2. How to order a Caterpillar – Build a Painted Lady Raising Kit
  3. Caterpillar – Build a Painted Lady Butterfly Raising Kit Instructions
  4. How to Feed your Butterflies: A Simple Guide
  5. Warm & Cold Weather Butterfly Release Instructions


11. Thank you & Contact Information

Thank you for tending to these beautiful butterflies with care. We hope that you had a wonderful experience raising, hatching and releasing these beautiful butterflies. Your nurturing efforts contribute to their crucial role in pollination and the overall health of our ecosystem. 

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out via email at, and our team members will be delighted to assist you. is an evolving platform undergoing constant updates. If you have any suggestions or edits you would like to share with our team, please don’t hesitate to reach out to to share your suggestions. We want to make this process as easy and informative as possible. Thank you 🦋

4 Responses

  1. I am thinking of ordering painted lady kit. What is the shipping cost from your location to Scarborough, ON.
    I run a home childcare program.
    I have a set up terrium for butterfly use only.

    1. Dear Maureen,

      Thank you for reaching out to our team!

      For exact shipping rates, which vary based on quantity and location, please visit our online store.

      Please add the desired items to your cart and go to the check out page. Prior to submitting payment for an order, you are able to see the exact shipping costs.

      Please let us know if you have any further questions, we look forward to sharing the joy of butterflies this season!

  2. We purchased the net cage for our pupa. Can you advise if the plastic side is supposed to be on top or on the bottom? Or does it matter? Also some of our caterpillars have eaten through the paper towel and attached themselves to the lids. Do you recommend taking them off of the lid or simply taping the lid to the top of the net cage? Thank you!

    1. Dear Agapi,

      Thank you for your questions. Please email our team at for prompt responses.

      The plastic side can be used as a base or placed in a way your able to view the insects hatching as a viewing window. If the insects pupate on the cup lid you are able to pin the cup lid in the net cage or tape it if necessary

      In the event the caterpillars eat the paper liner simply replace it with a new one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share Page On