On average, it takes between 4 and 10 days for a butterfly egg to hatch into a caterpillar. During that time, the egg must be tended to and kept in a regulated environment. While caring for butterfly eggs is not difficult, there are a few steps that need to be taken in order to ensure a successful hatching.
Things You'll Need
- 2 Styrofoam bowls
- Small paintbrush
- Plant leaves
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Keep the eggs attached to the plant leaf or stem on which they were found. The eggs of some species of butterfly will not hatch if separated from the place where they were laid.
Place the leaf gently in the bottom of a Styrofoam bowl.
Place another Styrofoam bowl over the top of the one containing the eggs. Balance it loosely, leaving room for air to circulate through the lower bowl.
Leave the bowl in a temperature-regulated area. If the eggs or larvae detect a dramatic shift in temperature, they may go into a state of hibernation.
Set a moist leaf or tiny fragment of damp paper toweling in the bowl. The eggs of some species of butterfly will not hatch if they are dehydrated. Consider the region that the eggs came from; if they are from a humid climate, they will probably need to be kept moist.
Put one or two small leaves in the bowl. If you have access to the type of plant that the eggs were found on, use that; it is likely to be the food of choice for your caterpillars once they hatch.
Refresh the leaves once a day to ensure that they do not dry out. Butterflies can be picky about what plants they will eat, and you want to have some food ready for the hungry caterpillars when they emerge.
Transfer the caterpillars to a larger container once they have hatched. Use a small paintbrush to gently lift them up and out of the bowl.