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How to raise queen butterfly

How to raise queen butterfly

Queen butterflies are one of the most common butterflies, but are commonly mistaken for monarch butterflies, especially as caterpillars! Raising queen butterflies is almost identical to raising monarchs, you just need to learn to identify the differences to know what you’ve got!

How to raise queen butterflies

The difference between queen caterpillars and monarch caterpillars

Monarchs and queen caterpillars look very similar in coloring, but one sure way to tell the difference is to pay attention to the antennae-like parts of the caterpillar, formally called filaments. The monarch caterpillar only has two sets of filaments, on the front and back, while the queen caterpillar has three sets.

how to raise queen butterfly caterpillar

The queen caterpillar is also bit smaller at each instar (stage of caterpillar lifecycle) than the monarch.

The queen butterfly eggs and chrysalises also look similar to monarch, but may also be slightly smaller in size.

queen butterfly vs. monarch butterfly: how to raise queen butterflies

When the butterfly ecloses from the chyralis, you can clearly tell it’s a different species. The queen butterfly is a dark orange with white spots, however it looks very similar to a monarch butterfly when its wings are closed.

queen butterfly vs. monarch butterfly: how to raise queen butterflies

Queen butterfly host plant

Queen butterflies will lay eggs on any species of milkweed, just like monarch caterpillars. The eggs also look identical and it would be hard to tell the difference between a monarch egg and a queen egg until you can examine the caterpillar.

How to attract queen butterflies to your garden

Queen monarchs are more common in southern areas of the United States, however we are in Missouri so do they do visit parts of the midwest. Creating a butterfly garden that attracts monarchs and other butterflies and pollinators will attract queen butterflies if they are in your area.

Plant their preferred host plant milkweed and other nectar plants like lantana, Joe Pyeweed, cone flowers, zinnias, beebalm and other native flowers.

Don’t have room for a full butterfly garden? Consider planting a container butterfly garden instead!

How to raise queen butterflies from egg/caterpillar to butterfly

Raising queen caterpillars is much like raising monarch caterpillars, although some say they can be cannibalistic in the early instars. This just means you may need to separate them so they don’t eat other queen or monarch caterpillars while they’re small.

how to raise queen butterfly caterpillars

Look for small eggs or caterpillars on the undersides of monarch leaves.

Our favorite way to raise caterpillars is in small tupperware containers (with holes poked in the lids) until the caterpillars are bigger, at which point we move them to a butterfly enclosure to finish growing and make a chrysalis.

It’s easier to keep food fresh longer in the containers. And it’s easier to clean out the frass on a regular basis.

how to raise queen butterfly caterpillars

Make sure you have plenty of milkweed to last your caterpillars around two weeks of munching. Provide fresh leaves everyday and clean out the frass once or twice a day depending on how big your caterpillars are and how much frass (poop) they’re producing.

Keep similar sized caterpillars together to prevent any accidental eating by the bigger cats.

After a couple weeks your queen caterpillar will make a J to prepare to pupate. After about 12 hours in a J, it will shed it’s skin a final time and harden into a chrysalis where it will undergo about 2 weeks of metamorphosis before emerging as a butterfly.

how to raise queen butterflies: queen butterfly about to emerge from chrysalis

Releasing queen butterflies

After your queen butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, it will need to hang for a couple hours to dry its wings. Once you notice the butterfly walking or flying around the enclosure, it’s ready to be released.

Before releasing, check to see if the queen butterfly is male or female. The male queen butterflies will have black dots on their bottom wings.

Release your queen butterflies back to the wild and keep your fingers crossed for more eggs on your milkweed soon!

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how to raise queen butterflies
how to raise queen caterpillars