Tips for Rearing Painted Lady Caterpillars at home or in the classroom:

  • Collect caterpillars from host/food plants in your garden (hollyhock/tree mallow). You might also check for caterpillars on cheeseweed (mallow family weed) along the road or in fields during early spring or summer.

  • Use a screened habitat with potted hollyhock plant or buy a caterpillar kit complete with mallow food formula from a local breeder or from InsectLore or EducationalScience. If using fresh plants, snipped leaves can feed caterpillars in small plastic containers with air holes. Regular cleaning and feeding is required.

  • Fun and easy to raise with kids in the classroom or at home.

  • Never touch or move a caterpillar not in forward motion. The caterpillar may be preparing to molt or pupate, which if interrupted could cause death.

  • Recently emerged adults need 1-2 hours to dry their wings. They can be held captive for a few days to a week with proper feeding (flowers, fresh oranges or watermelon, sugar nectar solution).

  • They may also begin mating in captivity and lay eggs if a live host plant is included in the habitat with them. Be careful what you ask for, only a dozen more eggs are needed to keep the cycle going. You don’t want to run out of fresh caterpillar food!