Coaxing a Butterfly to Lay Eggs Indoors

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Coaxing a Butterfly to Lay Eggs Indoors

Cloudy days, wet days, cool days; butterflies do not like to lay eggs under those conditions.
Trick a female butterfly into thinking it is a bright warm sunny day and she'll lay eggs for you!
Click on any photo for a larger image.

monarch butterfly indoor egg laying
monarch butterfly indoor egg laying
great purple hairstreak butterfly indoor egg laying
Egg production in a black nursery pot.
Monarch laying eggs in the pot to the left.
Small butterfly in a sealed cup
by a computer screen.
A window will cook the butterfly
within a few minutes!
monarch butterfly indoor egg laying
monarch butterfly indoor egg laying
great purple hairstreak butterfly indoor egg laying
Egg laying in a pop up.
This setup can be in front of a bright window.
Make sure it isn't too hot!
Eggs are visible through the side of the cage.
The Great Purple Hairstreak (above)
laying eggs in the cup.

Ingredients for Egg Production - Simply Reproduce These Conditions in a Cool Dark Room

1. Gravid (mated) female that has fed well
2. Clean healthy host plant
3. Warm temperatures
4. Adequate light (sunlight or artificial light of any kind)
5. Humidity

1. If a butterfly has not mated, it will still lay eggs. These eggs, after a few days, will collapse upon themselves. If your butterfly has not mated, you can hand-pair her if you also have a male handy that is 3 or more days old.
If she has not fed well, she may not lay as many eggs. You can hand-feed a butterfly Gatorade or 10% sugar or honey water if it will not eat on its own.

2. A clean healthy host plant will taste natural to a female butterfly. A nasty plant may not trigger as many eggs as a clean plant. Plants with plant pests also have pest excrement and possibly sooty mold on it. These things not only change the taste of the leaf (she tastes it with her feet before laying an egg) but will be unhealthy for hatchling and growing caterpillars.

3. When temperatures are cool, a butterfly’s instinct is to roost, or sit still. Warm it up! A incandescent light is perfect. If the butterfly moves away from the light, it’s too close. Move the light farther away. If you place the butterfly in a window, watch for high temperatures that will also trigger the instinct to roost. High temperatures can also kill a butterfly. Temperatures between 72 and 78 work well.

4. On cloudy days, a butterfly’s instinct is to roost. If light level is low, your butterfly will sit. A bright light is needed to ‘wake’ the butterfly. It will go toward the light. Between the light and the butterfly should be the host plant. Don’t give her a choice. If she goes to the light, she should be forced to touch the light. Don’t allow her to get between the light and plant. If there is too much plant, it could block the light causing too much shade and the butterfly’s instinct to go toward the light will not be triggered. Work with the light and heat factors to find the perfect balance for your setup.

5. Without humidity, a butterfly can become dehydrated and die within a day or two. She needs food and humidity in the air. Humidity can be added simply by adding the host plant. If the host plant is not living and dehydrates, that source of humidity will be at an end. A wet sponge in the bottom of the container will work well to add humidity to the container.