Raising Swallowtail Butterflies

by Whitewaves

Raising swallowtail butterflies from very small caterpillars through thier cocoon phase and watching as they emerge and become butterflies.

In the Beginning

The Anise Bush

A number of years ago I started an herb garden.  I do a little cooking with herbs, but mostly I enjoy the wonderful aromas of the herb garden.  One of the plants I have is anise.  It grows about 3 feet high and is very soft and wispy. 

A few years back I noticed a robin near the anise plant plucking a large caterpillar for breakfast.  After that I noticed that the anise bush was full of little dark colored caterpillars.  I thought they might be butterfly caterpillars so I kept an eye on them.  A few days later the only thing left of the little caterpillars was their skin.  Something, perhaps a wasp had feasted and there were no more caterpillars.  Another year I again noticed the bush was full of very little caterpillars so I tried to put up some screens to deter the birds.  A very wise robin figured out how to get in and had a feast.

After that I started bringing in a few of the caterpillars and raising them.  I started out with one or two and learned about raising them along the way.  This year I brought eight little caterpillars in and later released eight beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterflies.



Baby Caterpillars

Three Baby Caterpillars
Three Baby Caterpillars

Caterpillars this size don't require much care.  It is very important when raising caterpillars to provide the exact food source as where they were found.  If found on anise, then they will only eat anise.  Fortunately my anise plant is big enough and fresh anise was always available for them.

They Grow Quickly

They Grow Quickly
They Grow Quickly

When the caterpillars reach the right stage in thier development they look for a place to attach.  There they will become a cocoon.  The change takes about a week to ten day. 


The above cocoon was a darker green during the deveopment phase.  Now you can see spots that are probably on the wings.  It won't be long now.

Metamorphosis Complete
Metamorphosis Complete
A few hours later
A few hours later

A few hours later the butterfly is strong and will be ready to fly soon.

Ready to go
Ready to go

In a few minutes the butterfly will flutter away to do butterfly things and I will start to create butterfly designs for my Zazzle products which will appear on www.zazzle.com/whitewaves1, www.zazzle.com/whitewavespaperie and on binders in www.zazzle.com/memoriesplus*/

The swallowtails are in my area in the spring.  In mid October the Monarchs come through on their yearly migration to Mexico.  They rest and feast on my fall flowers in New Jersey.  I have never found a Monarch chrysailis.  This year I planted some milkweed - just in case as that would be amazing.


Beautiful Swallow Tail Butterfly Print

Swallow Tail Butterfly

Zazzle prints and posters are beautiful.  This swallowtail butterfly is only a few minutes old.  it is drying it's wings in preperation for flight. 

Butterflies and babies, always changing.

Butterfly Wing Necklace

The beautiful design of a butterfly wing is reproduced on a pendent necklace.

Andy's Swallowtail Butterflies

Little Wing Design

Butterfly Dreams
Butterfly Dreams
Butterfly Dreams

Little Wing Design

Butterfly Dreams


Updated: 11/29/2011, Whitewaves
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kajohu on 07/25/2011

This is lovely! I like your photos that you used here to show the swallowtail butterflies in their different life stages.

JoyfulPamela on 07/24/2011

I love, love, love, love, love butterflies!! Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos. :)

WordCustard on 07/19/2011

Beautiful! Did you ever see the film 'Bright Star' and the room full of butterflies? The caterpillars for the swallowtail are actually quite pretty too. It's still a wonder to me how one changes into the other.

Holistic_Health on 07/18/2011

Lovely pictures. Makes me think I could possibly do it.

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