Raising Adult Butterflies

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EMERGING ADULT BUTTERFLIES

Don't touch the freshly emerged butterfly until its wings are dried. A touch will rupture the wings and fluid will leak causing deformed wings. After its wings are dry, the butterfly will expel meconium. The color of meconium varies from species to species. Some species, like the Painted Lady, will expel reddish fluid. Others will expel a brown fluid. Meconium is the remains of its last meal. Some have incorrectly taught that the fluid is left from expanding its wings. This is not so. If you notice a freshly emerged Monarch with leaking wings, you will note that the leaking fluid is green, not brown.

It usually will not eat the first day. After the wings are hardened, about two hours, it is safe to move your butterfly. The best way to handle a butterfly is to grasp its wings as if the wings were a cigarette, between two fingers. If you grasp it between your finger and thumb, you will not hurt it. You will, however, tend to remove some of the scales where your finger and thumb meet even though you are not touching the inside of the wings. Butterflies can fly without wing scales. In fact, some species never have scales!

Clearwing butterflies are exactly that, clear wings without scales. The good news is that butterflies can fly with tattered and broken wings. If they could not, they would be lunch for various critters instead of flying away and leaving only a portion of their wings in disappointed mouths or beaks.

FEEDING ADULT BUTTERFLIES

Adult butterflies eat several things in the wild. These 'food' items include flower nectar,decaying fruit, tree sap, animal manure, and decaying animals. But in a conatined area these items are not always available or appropriate!

Gatorade is a great alternative to flower nectar. A piece of paper towel with Gatorade and a bit of banana, apple, watermelon, or other fruit provides a tasty lunch.

If your butterfly is over 24 hours old and won't eat, pick it up and place it on the food. If it still does not eat you can use a toothpick to gently uncurl its proboscis and lower it to touch its food. In most cases, the butterfly will start to drink and will continue to drink for several minutes.