Welcome To Your Crafty Butterfly Box Kit Instructions
Your kit includes : folded box, square piece of double-sided tape to attach chrysalis disk inside box, feeder with cotton wick, sugar, flowers, stickers, crayons and coloring page.
Setting up your Crafty Butterfly Box:
- Your box arrives folded and flat. This is the perfect time to color it, before assembly!
- Fold the box so it looks like the picture to the right. There are tabs that fit into slots on all corners. This takes some trial and error but is fun to figure out with some parental supervision. If you get stumped visit here: https://www.nature-gifts.com/box
- You can poke a flower stem into the hole on the feeder lid along with the cotton ball if you’d like. The cotton ball serves as a wick for the butterflies to drink sugar water from. Do NOT add water to the feeder yet. Set it on the ‘floor’ of your box with the window facing you like in the picture.
- The box is now ready!Don’t worry, the box is not air tight and does not need holes.
Caring for your Caterpillars
Look carefully at your caterpillar cup and you will see there are tiny holes punched in the lid for air. Your caterpillars only need the food on the bottom of their cup to thrive and grow. In the wild they like mallow and hollyhock plants, but our special concentrated diet is great for them. Now watch as they eat, crawl, spin silk and grow to many times their original size! Don’t worry if they do not move for the first day or so, this is normal. While they are eating and growing you will see little balls on the bottom of the cup that are the caterpillars “frass” or waste. It should be left in the cup. While the caterpillars are in the cup you may gently pick up the cup to look at them but do not shake it or be rough with them.
Changing from Caterpillar to Chrysalis
At normal room temperature the caterpillars should take 5 to 10 days to grow large enough to make the fascinating change from caterpillar to chrysalis. When they are ready to change your caterpillars will climb to the top of the cup and attach themselves, by strands of silk, to the special disk that is under the lid of the cup. They will hang upside down from the disk and make a “J” shape. Once they are in the “J” shape, their body will change into a chrysalis and they will shed a very thin layer of outer skin that you may not even see. During the first day while their chrysalis is forming it is very important that they are not disturbed and you must be very careful not to move or jiggle the cup. This is the most vulnerable stage in the development of a butterfly.
Caring for the Chrysalis
24 hours after ALL of the caterpillars have formed chrysalis is the best time to move them into your butterfly box. By this time they should all be firmly attached to the disk under the lid of the cup. To move them into the box you are going to move the whole disk, not the individual chrysalis. First, set up your box per the directions.Then gently open the cup and remove the disk, being very careful not to disturb the chrysalis. Carefully remove any webbing that may be stuck to the chrysalis. There is a square piece of double-sided tape in your supply bag you can stick to the back side of the disk and use to attach the disk to an inside wall of your box. The chrysalis will be hanging downward and laying against the disk. If any of your chrysalis become detached from the disk gently lay them on a napkin on the floor of the box next to a side wall. The chances are good that they will still emerge as healthy butterflies. As with the cup, the box should be kept at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
It is time to fill your feeder! Remove the lid and fill the feeder with water then mix in the pack of sugar. Replace the lid and make sure the cotton ball is in the lid as it acts as a wick for the butterflies to feed from. The butterfly feeder will keep the humidity raised in the box which is good for the chrysalis.
Birth of your Butterflies
Approximately 7 to 10 days after they have made their chrysalis your butterfly will emerge. Although, from the outside, the 7 to 10 days of the chrysalis phase seems to be a time when nothing is happening, it is really a time of rapid change. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge.
The chrysalis will get darker as the time to emerge gets closer. Keep your eyes on them now as you may get to witness the birth of a butterfly! As a butterfly emerges, it will hold onto the disk in a vertical position while stretching its wings to full size. Don’t be alarmed if you see a red liquid, which may look like blood, coming from the tail of the butterfly. This is called Meconium. It’s a waste product left over from the butterfly’s metamorphosis. When a butterfly emerges its wings are soft and folded and it cannot fly. Over a period of 1 to 2 hours the butterfly stretches and strengthens its wings by forcing blood into its veins. During this time be careful not to touch or jiggle the box. Only 1 to 2 hours after emerging the wings will be full-sized and completely hardened. Your butterfly is now fullygrown and ready for flight. You will keep the box closed while you observe them for a few days before release. Only open the box when you are ready to let them free.
Feeding, Observing, and Releasing the Butterflies
The normal lifespan of a butterfly is 2 to 4 weeks. You will want to observe your butterflies for a few days before you release them from the box. Butterflies will not eat the first day but after that you may see them use the feeder. Butterflies eat by unrolling their proboscis (like a tongue) and drinking sweetened water. When they are finished they roll their proboscis back up.
After observing your butterflies for a few days we recommend that you release them into their natural environment. This way they can continue their normal life cycle and breed and lay the eggs that will become caterpillars. Your butterflies are not likely to breed within the box because they prefer live plants for laying their eggs. Painted Ladies live throughout North America so you can safely release them anywhere. When temperatures are above 55°F it is safe to release your butterflies. Once released, the butterflies can often be seen for several days in the vicinity of their release. If it is too chilly, you can keep them inside for their full lifespan by refilling the feeder weekly with fresh sugar water while being careful not to let them escape the box.
Butterfly Kit Facts:
Q: Do you give a guarantee?
A: It’s possible that you might lose a few caterpillars, chrysalis or butterflies to natural causes. Because of this, we do guarantee 3 caterpillars from your cup to become healthy butterflies. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Q: How long before I get my caterpillars?
A: If your kit came with a certificate for caterpillars, mail, fax or e-mail it to us per the instructions. Allow 2 weeks for them to arrive.
Q: Can I order butterflies during the winter?
A: Only order if it is above 40°F in your area. Then, you can keep the butterflies in the habitat for their full lifespan instead of releasing them outside.
Q: My caterpillars aren’t moving. Are they dead?
A: Probably not, it may take days before they decide to move.
Q: Can I remove the cup lid and play with the caterpillars?
A: No. Removing the lid may introduce harmful bacteria. They have all the food and air they need to develop.
Q: All caterpillars have made a chrysalis except for one. Should I wait to transfer them into my habitat?
A: While your caterpillars are roughly the same age, sometimes a last caterpillar may need a little more time. You can wait 3 days for him to change and if he does not, move the chrysalides into the habitat now and put a piece of paper towel under the lid for the last caterpillar to attach to when he is ready.
Q: Why are the chrysalides shaking?
A: This is a natural instinct to ward off predators. Some may shake and some may not.
Q: If a chrysalis falls off the disk, what should I do?
A: Gently lay it on the bottom of the habitat on a napkin near a wall of the habitat. These are usually OK.
Q: What is the red liquid I see coming from the butterflies right after they emerge?
A: It is called Meconium. It is the leftover coloring and tissues from the butterfly’s metamorphosis. It is not blood.
Q: How long before I have butterflies?
A: Approximately 3 weeks: 5 to 10 days in the caterpillar stage and 7 to 10 days in the chrysalis stage.
Q: How long will the butterflies live?
A: Their normal life span is 2 to 4 weeks in the wild or in the habitat.
Q: When should I release my adult butterflies?
A: After observing the adult butterflies for a few days you can release them if the temperature is above 55°F.