Butterfly Family Tips

Raising Mourning Cloaks (From the IBBA Mailing List)
Building a Growing Cylinder
Portable, Inexpensive Soft-sided Cages
Off Plant Egg Laying!
Hanging Swallowtail Pupae
Fans, Air Movement, Humidity and Temperatures
Hydrogen Peroxide: Sterilizing Agent, Disease Suppressant &
Growth Enhancer

Mobile hydroponic milkweed cups
A great galvanized folding tomato cage
How to create a "Stained Glass" butterfly
Butterfly Identification Websites
A Design for a Butterfly Trap - Nigel Venters

Aluminium frame for butterfly cage - Edward Tsyrlin
Information Source for Butterflies in each State
A warning to anyone using a 'tick killer' on their pet
Hasta Gro: Make your own!!
How to easily spot a web

Pairing & Egg production
Spring Monarch Migration Map [links to Journey North website]
Aphis nerii - Q&A
Filters for washing Monarch eggs
Information Resources for Business Owners
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Growing the various Buddleia species
Shipping Monarch Pupae

Suggest a Tip - or Submit a Tip!

Please note that the 'Tips & More' information that was formely contained on this page is now available in the Ask A Mentor section

Raising Mourning Cloaks

From the IBBA Mailing List, June 2006
Nigel Venters & Melanie McCarthy

Good Morning,

I have a question, I hope you can answer. Daryl & I had collected 7 pupae last week, and I've attached them to the laundry basket cage that I read about in the Secrets... book. It looked like Mourning Cloak pupae, but I wasn't certain. This morning I am the proud mother of my first emerged butterfly,,. and it IS a Mourning Cloak. Now what do I do? Can I feed her on gatorade? Does anyone out there know about raising them in captivity? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your support.


Hi Alicia.

Mourning Cloak
Mourning Cloak
I do Mourning Cloaks every year...here we call them the Camberwell Beauty...a much nicer name I think after the first recorded specimen taken in Camberwell, London, in around 1750...a rural setting then but now under concrete!

I have bred the US specimens and the European specimens and can find no difference...except the Mourning Cloaks from California are more inclined to have a second generation in the year...if you are North of California...and it is already late in the season...My guess is that you will have to keep you butterflies until next spring.

Mourning Cloaks mating
Mourning Cloaks mating
I find the best way to treat them is to put them in a plastic dustbin with some potting compost....say a third full...throw in some old egg cartons of cardboard etc...but leave around 1ft space near the top. Put the adults in the dustbin and net the top with some coarse (But soft) netting to stop them damaging their wings.

I then just provide some cut pears apples plums etc on the top of the netting...they will feed from these...you don't need flowers. Then the activity will stop as the weather warms up for summer...they will aestivate...(Sleep)...then keep an eye for them in the fall as you then need to feed them again as they will become quite active again...as the weather gets colder they will go into the egg cartons, cardboard etc to overwinter. I then put the lid on the bin...I usually open it during mild weather here (Although the butterflies are inactive) to allow a little airflow...I just use a couple of bits of wood to hold it clear.

Mourning Cloak laying
Mourning Cloak laying

Anyway it is a bit of work to get them through until next year...but worth it...I have around 500 Mourning Cloak pupae just now...and they are so easy in the spring....the great thing is that they live for so long and the caterpillars are gregarious...so very rarely suffer from disease...you don't have to sterilise foodplant etc...and just keep them until you need them for a release. They lay an egg batch of around 200-300 eggs...so you'll need a lot of hostplant!

Good luck.
Nigel Venters


From: "The Monarchy Butterfly Farm"

Subject: Re: [IBBA Mailing List] I have a question

I've had my best and largest morning cloaks raised on willow. I would use a large bin with the lid cut out and screening on top. The bottom would be hardware cloth so the frass could go through and this container would sit in another.

I would raise them on my front porch where they did get the morning sun and I would put the willow in water as the tree I got the willow from had very high branches and I couldn't sleeve them. Be very careful because if the leaves dry out, each and every larva seems to find a means of escape and you will find them walking down your driveway . . .

If I used maple syrup, I would dilute it with water and put a little on a sponge but it would have to be just the right amount as it is sticky. Sometimes I would mix in the diluted mixture and pour it onto the fruit if the fruit was not really ripe, so the mourning cloaks would sit on the fruit and get some diluted syrup. They overwinter nicely in boxes up in the corners.

I have mourning cloak now and have made a little display on the counter of my school in the front office - all about the mourning cloak.

They by far are the easiest butterfly I ever raised, the frass doesn't seem to bother them and I love the hardened and rough chrysalis with it's jagged points. The pupae are very lively also.

Melanie McCarthy


From: Nigel

Hi Alicia,

I've been away for a week on a project so sorry for late answer.

I use the dustbin for overwintering the adults...the larvae are best sleeved if you can...otherwise...change the food often and you must allow a good airflow...the larvae are gregarious right up to just before they pupate and do not suffer much from disease...if you rear them in closed/sealed containers you will lose them all. They do like heat and some sunshine to do really well. If using cut food, I wrap some wet cotton wool around the stems and then cover this with cling film as it keeps the leaves fresher for longer.

As for adults...they are only double brooded in the south of their range..California...where the overwintered adults are on the wing early in the year and the first generation are already in Pupae by April. These will then go on to have a second (or more) generation. Further generations can be induced by keeping the adults well fed...flowers, rotting fruit etc and spraying with water...they usually go into aestivation for the hot summer months and start feeding again in the fall just before hibernation. The water spraying and heat seems to trick them that it is ok to have a another brood!

Hope this helps...by the way I usually steer clear of Maple syrup and sticky solutions as the adults can get covered in it and then suffer from having wings stuck etc.


From Alicia:

Thank you Nigel & Melanie,

Nigel, do you keep them in the plastic dustbin until they pupate, then transfer them to a new one? Do I need to clean the frass as is necesary for the monarchs? Do you use a clear plastic dustbin or an opaque one?

Melanie, do you put the diluted maple syrup on a sponge?

I guess I have more than one question now. This is so exciting!!!

I Love this organization!!!
Thank you again.


Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2006 06:49:02 -0400
From: "The Monarchy Butterfly Farm"
Subject: Re: [IBBA Mailing List] I have a question

Yes, a sponge works great.

I've used just a big bin to raise them in - like the kind you can buy at Wal-Mart and I cut out the center of the lid and putt screening in. I like Nigel's idea of adding the egg cartons, and I use opaque - be careful, if you run out of food, they manage to get out of the box and will crawl what seems like for miles. After they pupate at the top I remove them and let them emerge in another cage.


Growing CylinderBuilding a Growing Cylinder

Build the growing cylinder with wood post or with 4" pvc post. Attach circular plywood plates at top and bottom. 

(Optional: Cut half of the bottom out of a plastic pot and slide it down over the post, so that it sits on the bottom plywood circle. Put a few rocks in the pot to hold it down.)   Wrap insect screen around the plywood top and bottom plates and affix with staple gun and hot glue, so that a screen cylinder is made. Cut a square hole out for a door, and cover with a square of screen that is 3" larger than the hole.  Use velcro or hot glue to attach flap, and you have a doorway to take plants in and out.  You can make several doors to access different parts of the cylinder interior. If you use the plastic pot at the bottom with rocks holding it down, then you can glue the screen to the outside of the pot.  Then you will be able to lift the pot up and the screen with it, when you want to change plants or gather larvae or pupae.   Linda Rogers

Portable, Inexpensive Soft-sided Cages

Need an inexpensive rearing cage for a variety of purposes? Look for portable bag-type laundry hampers available at many discount stores. The hamper consists of a nylon mesh bag that fits over a PVC-type frame. Cost is generally around $8.00 to $10.00 each (that's CHEAP!). These hampers are lightweight allowing them to be transported easily from one area of your breeding operation to another. Keeping them disinfected is easy too. Simply wipe down the PVC with bleach or alcohol. The nylon bag can be detached and thrown into the washer.

Laundry Sorter CageYou can keep about 40 to 50 butterflies comfortably in a single cage. Since the sides of the soft nylon bag "give", wing damage is kept to a minimum.

The cages serve a wide range of purposes. I often use them for separating stock during feeding. In fact, they act as a great feeding tool. Place a piece of plastic canvas (a plastic "grid") over the top opening of the cage and put a couple of pieces of paper towel on top of the canvas. Then soak the paper towels with your feeding solution. The combination of the grid and absorbent paper towels keeps the solution from dripping through to the butterflies. By placing a light above the cage, the butterflies are drawn to the top and begin feeding on the saturated toweling through the holes of the canvas.

I also use these cages for hanging chrysalides that are ready to emerge. The cage is a safe haven for fragile wings. If an emerging adult falls, it can easily crawl back up the sides to pump up its wings.

The only alteration you will need to make to the cage is to attach some elastic bands to the four bottom corners of the nylon bag. These bands attach the bag to the bottom of the PVC frame providing plenty of room for your butterflies. The elastic bands can remain attached to the nylon bag when laundering.

Jon and Cindy Timko

Off Plant Egg Laying!
By Nigel Venters

Do you find your Zebras like to lay on the tendrils of the plant? Many butterflies lay eggs off the foodplant deliberately. Some of the large fritillaries lay when the foodplant has disappeared...we have an English large fritillary species that lays all the eggs off plant on tree trunks...the cats hatch in the autumn and spend the winter in the bark crevasses...wait all winter having not fed on anything except their egg shell...and in the spring the cat walks down the trunk and searches for Violets on the forest floor. Butterflies don't usually make many mistakes..it's a matter of survival for them....where you see them laying off plant there is usually a good reason...many are fussy and lay only on one part of the plant...others right at the base near the ground...others on the stem. A good example a the Passifloras, which are often patrolled by ants which expect to find eggs to eat...so many Passiflora feeders (Heliconids) develop their own preferences on where they lay to give their eggs the best chance...and this often includes off plant laying.

Hanging Swallowtail Pupae
By Nigel Venters.

Swallowtail pupae have evolved to be upright...and tail hanging species have evolved to tail hang! With Swallowtail pupae you'll notice that the legs on the pupae always point inwards towards the stick or whatever it pupated on.

This enables the emerging butterfly to grasp with it's legs immediately it breaks free and pull itself clear of the pupal case. While many Swallowtail pupae will emerge when hanging upside down with no problems, the amount of cripples will increase over natural upright conditions...so I always stick them (leg side inwards) from the base on some rough cardboard. I use a contact glue..I dot a little on the cardboard and a little on the end and first couple of pupal segments. You have to let it dry for 5 mins and then I just place them into position to sit naturally.

(From a separate post on Sulphurs...) I remove the strings each side of the pupae with a scalpel...the pupa drops and hangs from it's cremaster. I then use a needle that has been pushed blunt end into a pencil rubber/ eraser...with this I "Worry" the silk at the cremaster until the pupa drop into a lid lined with some kitchen roll paper, which I hold right underneath it. I then use tweezers that are bent wide and at the "teeth" ends, where I have stuck some foam rubber strips to handle them...so I really don't have to touch them with my hands. I then stick them into place as the Swallowtails. This may sound time consuming but you don't lose any and they take time to deal with in any other way anyway!

Nigel Venters

Fans, Air Movement, Humidity and Temperatures


The Growing Environment

The most overlooked environmental factor affecting plant growth inside a growing environment or growing structure is airflow. Getting just the right degree of air movement across a leaf surface is vital to good production and yields and can mean the difference between high rates of photosynthesis occurring or none at all. Good air flow also assists temperature control, CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) replenishment, reduces humidity and lowers the occurrence of certain diseases.

Boundary Layers and the Leaf Flutter Effect

A small amount of air movement - just enough to gently move or 'flutter' the leaf - has the effect of removing the stale, humid air from the boundary layer that lies just above and just below the leaf surface. This boundary layer of air supplies the leaf with CO2 and also holds much of the moisture transpired by the plant. If there isn't any air movement, diffusion of water vapour out of the leaf and CO2 into the leaf begins to slow as the boundary layer air mixes too slowly into the rest of the environment. Air movement across the foliage creating a `flutter effect', also assists photosynthesis and transpiration which plays a major role in calcium transportation, preventing blossom end rot and tipburn in certain plants.

Temperature Control

One of the most effective methods of cooling a growing environment is simply by having adequate ventilation and airflow drawn in from outside and vented out again. Obviously the amount to ventilation required to maintain the ideal temperature range will depend on such factors as the temperature of the incoming air, the heat load from lights in the growing area and the amount of air drawn into and flushed out on a regular basis. Optimal growing temperatures for warm season, high light crops differ depending on the level of CO2 provided in the growing environment. Where CO2 enrichment is used to maximum levels (in excess of 800 ppm), plants are able to maintain higher rates of photosynthesis under good light conditions where the temperature is run higher than normal. Temperatures in the range 80°F (27°C) to 92°F (32°C) with CO2 enrichment are recommended where light levels are high for warm season crops. Where CO2 enrichment is not being used, or is only being applied to prevent CO2 depletion by the plants and provide ambient levels (265 ppm), temperatures should be set lower to prevent 'plant stress' which can occur when conditions become too warm and stomata shut down to prevent excessive water loss. Temperatures for non enriched crops with good light levels are best kept in the range 75°F (24°C) to 85°F (29°C) for warm season crops. Night temperatures, when no CO2 enrichment should be carried out are best run at lower levels - this assists the plant to restore turgor pressure with an increased uptake of water at night. Temperatures in the range 65°F (18°C) to 75°F (24°C) are ideal for night or `non lighting' periods.

Humidity and Disease Control

High humidity levels can become a major problem where plants with large leaf areas in a warm but restricted growing environment are continually transpiring and releasing water vapour into the air. Ideal humidity levels for flowering plants are in the range 30 - 50%, however the higher the humidity level, the greater the risk of certain plant diseases such as mildew and botrytis as well as bacterial infection where moisture forms on the leaf surfaces. Rapidly transpiring plants, with no air replacement can raise humidity levels within a very short time - conditions ideal for most disease to take hold. High humidity levels also slow the rate of plant transpiration (moisture loss from the leaves). Since transpiration is essential to not only cool the leaf surface but creates a suction effect resulting in water and mineral uptake and transportation within the plant, it is essential to keep the process going.

Fans in a grow room, not only vent out humid air but bring in drier air to the growing environment and this is essential for not only good plant growth but also disease prevention. When humidity levels are high, condensation at night when it is generally cooler can become a major problem. Condensation on plant surfaces provides the perfect environment for many fungal spores and bacterial diseases to infect the plants. It takes only a few hours of high moisture levels for most diseases to infect plant tissue and take hold, so reducing humidity and preventing condensation are one way of protecting plants from disease outbreaks.

Fan Types Required

Airflow patterns should be considered in the design of any growing environment. The placement of fans, vents and air mixers needs to be arefully planned to create good air movement in through the inlet vents, over and under the plants and out again. For odd problem areas where still, moist air is collecting, small mixer fans can be installed.

Intake and Exhaust or Vent Fans

There are two types of fans commonly used in growing areas - intake and exhaust or vent fans. Intake fans pull air into the growing area, exhaust fans push it out. Exhaust or extraction fans which are positioned to extract warm moist air from the crop are the most useful, however an intake fan which draws in sufficient fresh air with an adequate vent system to allow stale air to be vented out works well, provided the fan is large enough for the area to be vented. Whatever sort of fan is being used to vent out and draw in fresh air, inside the growing area, air needs to be mixed and circulated over the plant surfaces.

Osculating Wall Mounted and Pedestal Fans

Circulation or mixer fans, which may be wall mounted, pedestal, or osculating types carry out the essential function of mixing the cooler, drier fresh air being brought in, as well as any CO2 enrichment to create a uniform temperature and prevent cold drafts from stressing the plants. These fans also carry out the role of gently moving the stale, humid boundary layer of air from around the leaf surface and replacing it with fresh, CO2 enriched air which stimulates both photosynthesis and transpiration. Mixer fans can be wall mounted to save space, but need to be carefully positioned and angled to get the greatest mixing and air movement effect. Stand up fans and osculating fans also need to be positioned with air movement in mind - and if any area of stagnant air (perhaps areas where fungal disease seem common) is found, small fans can be positioned to deal with these problems. The main objective is to not only get air circulating and mixing in the lower levels of the crop to reduce humidity and disease problems, but also over the tops of the plants where the most light is falling and maximum rates of photosynthesis are occurring. Spot checks on CO2 levels, temperature and humidity around the growing area and in the crop will help discover where air flow is not occurring sufficiently.

Fan Controllers

Ideally, fans should be linked to a thermostat - triggering increased air flow and ventilation when temperatures start becoming to warm, and the CO2 enrichment system if one is used. CO2 injectors which are designed to enrich fresh new air with CO2 as the inlet fan comes on are one way of making sure high levels of CO2 are always present when the lights are on. Fans should also be triggered to vent out warm, humid air and high CO2 levels just after the lights switch off at night. High levels of CO2 are not required at night when the plants are respiring and need to use oxygen only from the air. Condensation, can be a problem at night when temperatures cool and humidity in the air result in water forming on plants and other surfaces. Getting good air replacement or air changes in the first couple of hours after lights go off is one way of preventing diseases such as mildew and botrytis whose spores need very high humidity or free water on the leaf surfaces to germinate and infect the plants. If drier, fresh air is continually brought in so humidity is lowered and condensation does not form, then fungal and bacterial pathogens can't attack the plants.

Fans can also be linked to a thermostat and dehumidistat controller, which does the same as thermostat but adds on dehumidistat. Pre-set to desired humitity level. When grow room becomes to humit, the exhaust fan will turn on and suck the wet air out until preset levels are reached. By having control, our fan is not needed to be on full time without the expense of continual running. This type of system is ideal where the outside air temperature is cool and needs to be rapidly mixed and warmed when it enters the growing area. Where cool outside air temperatures exist, which might be many degrees below what is being maintained in the growing environment, continual air changes will result in sudden and continual drop in temperature resulting in 'thermal stress' on the plants.

Fan Calculations

Getting the size of the intake and exhaust fans right for the growing area is important for plant growth and development and disease prevention. The best set up is a system of two 'vents' - an intake vent set relatively low down at one end or corner of the growing area, with the exhaust or extractor fan set higher up at the opposite end of the room. The idea behind this is that cool, drier air sucked in from outside will flow up, through and over the crop (assisted by mixer fans in the room), and warmer, moist air which rises will be extracted by the fan at the other end.

Step 1:

The first step in working out the size of fan(s) required is to calculate the amount of air in the growing area. This is done by multiplying the length x the width of the room x the height of the room. This will give a value in cubic feet:

For example, a 12 foot by 12 foot room with a height of 8 foot:

12 x12 x 8 = 1152 cubic feet of air inside the growing area.

Ventilation fans are rated in the number of cubic feet of air they can move per minute.

Step 2:

Work out how fast one complete 'air change' needs to be carried out under warm conditions (i.e the maximum you will ever need the fan to operate).

If excess heat in a certain growing environment is a common problem, or there is a large volume of plants growing in a very restricted space you will need more air flow per hour than for a larger growing area which doesn't suffer from too much heat build up with smaller plants.

Growers commonly underestimate just how much 'air exchange' is required to remove excess heat and humidity, bring in fresh CO2 and generally create fresh air movement over all of the plant surfaces. As a comparison to greenhouse crops growing in full sunlight - one air change per minute or 60 air changes an hour are often aimed for with large, mature crops growing under warm, humid conditions. However, in a grow room situation, one complete air change obtained in 4-5 minutes is acceptable. Obviously this needs to be more frequent (one complete air change in 2-3 minutes) where lighting is creating a lot of extra heat to be removed or when a CO2 generator is being used.

Step 3:

Divide the air volume of the growing area by the number of minutes required to get one full air change:

If the room is 1152 cubic feet of air divide by 4 minutes (that's one air change can be carried out in 4 minutes)

Fan capacity required is 288 cubic feet per minute (for just one extractor fan).

Add on at least 1 medium sized mixer fan (either wall or stand mounted) for each 200 cubic feet of air, make sure these are equally spaced in the growing area. More smaller fans will be beneficial to increase air flow up and under plants in any 'stale air pockets' which may be prone to fungal or bacterial disease attack.

While its relatively simple to work out the size of fan required for a certain size of growing area, other factors should be taken into account. If insect screens are installed over inlets, this reduces the rate at which air can be drawn in and both inlet size and fan size need to take this into account. If the inlets or outlets are not directly drawing in from or venting to the outside, but using long ducts, then a larger capacity fan or correct type of 'ducting fan' will be required, the size of which will depend largely on the distance air has to be pulled or pushed from outside.


Air movement with the correct sized fan, well placed mixer fans to displace stale boundary layer air around leaf surfaces and fan controllers to get maximum climate control are vital to the success of any indoor crop. Air movement is often over looked, but an essential part of maintaining optimal growth conditions by modifying temperature, humidity and CO2 levels at the leaf surface where the important plant process of photosynthesis and transpiration are occurring. Getting fan size and air movement calculations right means plants have the best conditions for growth, development and supreme yields.

Hydrogen Peroxide: Sterilizing Agent, Disease Suppressant, AND Growth Enhancer

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) it is made up of Hydrogen (H2) and Oxygen (O2), however H2O2 has an extra Oxygen atom in an unstable arrangement - it is this extra negatively charged Oxygen atom that gives H2O2 its useful properties. H2O2 is used for many purposes including cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, rocket fuel, animal feed treatment and in addition many miraculous claims about its health benefits have been made. This faq focuses on its use in horticultural applications. H2O2 is of great use for both hydroponics and dirt/soilless gardening.

What Does Hydrogen Peroxide do?

H2O2 is an unstable molecule; when it breaks down, a single oxygen atom (O-)and a molecule of water is released. This oxygen atom is extremely reactive and will attach itself to either another Oxygen atom (forming a stable O2 molecule) or attack a nearby organic molecule.

H2O2 will rapidly eliminate the Chlorine used in many municipal water supplies, as well as degrade any pesticides, herbicides or other organic matter that might be present. Well water is often high in methane and organic sulfates, both of which H2O2 will remove.

Both the stable and O- forms will increase the level of dissolved oxygen. Increasing the DO in your nutrient solution will benefit the root system and be detrimental to harmful anaerobic bacteria such as pythium.

Many disease-causing organisms and spores are killed by the free O- atom. The free Oxygen atom will destroy dead organic material (i.e., leaves and roots) in the system, preventing them from rotting and spreading diseases. H2O2 will help eliminate existing infections and will help prevent future ones. It is also useful for suppressing algae growth.

Over Watering

Both soil and hydroponic plants often fall prey to the same syndrome. Hydroponic crops often fail due to "root rot" and soil crops succumb to "over-watering." The actual cause is a shortage of Oxygen at the root zone, allowing a Pythium infection to take hold.

In a soil system,

the soil consists of particles, a film of water on the particles and air spaces between the particles. When too much water is put into the soil, the air spaces fill with liquid. The roots will quickly use up the dissolved oxygen within these pore spaces. If the root system has not absorbed the water within these pore spaces, air will not be able to enter and Oxygen within that space will become depleted. In a low oxygen environment, roots will begin dying within twenty-four hours.

As the roots die, the plant’s ability to uptake water and nutrients will drastically decrease, and the plant will show symptoms of nutrient deficiencies (pale leaves, and slow growth). Plants will start to wilt (appearing water deficient) – at this point many growers will mistakenly water their plants!

In a Hydroponic system,

oxygen deprivation is often caused by high temperatures and inadequate nutrient circulation and/or aeration. High reservoir temperatures interfere with Oxygen's ability to dissolve into water. Temperatures above 70F (20C) will eventually cause problems, 62F-65F (16C-18C) is recommended.

Oxygen deprivation symptoms in hydroponics are similar to that of soil - but at least you are able to check the roots. Healthy roots should be mostly white with maybe a slight yellowish tan tinge. If they are a brownish color with dead tips or they easily pull away there is at least the beginning of a serious problem. An organic, ‘dirt like’ rotting smell means there is already a very good chance it is too late. As roots die and rot, they remove Oxygen out of the water; as Oxygen levels are depleted even further. more will roots die - a viscous circle!. Reduced Oxygen levels and high temperatures encourage anaerobic bacteria and fungi, which attack the plant further mercilessly.

How does Hydrogen Peroxide prevent root rot & over-watering

Plants watered with H2O2 will experience extra oxygen in the root zone when the peroxide breaks down. This helps stop the Oxygen from being depleted in the water filled air spaces until air can get back into them. High Oxygen levels at the roots will encourage rapid healthy root growth. In a Hydroponic systems, H2O2 will disperse through out the system and raise Oxygen levels as it breaks down. Strong white healthy roots with lots of fuzzy new growth will be visible. This fuzzy growth has massive surface area allowing for rapid absorption of the huge amounts of water and nutrients needed for rapid top growth. A healthy plant starts with a healthy root system.

How to use/apply it

H2O2 comes in several different strengths: 3%, 5%, 8% and 35%, also sold as food grade Hydrogen Peroxide. The most economical is 35% which we recommend be diluted to three percent before using. When working with food grade H2O2, it is very important that you clean up any spills or splashes immediately, it will damage almost oxidize everything very quickly. Skin will be temporarily bleached pure white if not washed cleaned. Gloves are strongly recommended when working with any strong chemical.

Food grade H2O2 can be diluted to three percent by mixing it one part to eleven parts water (preferably distilled). The storage container should be opaque to prevent light from getting in and it must be able to hold some pressure. If three-liter pop bottles are available in your area they are ideal for mixing and storing H2O2. There are twelve quarter liters (250ml) in three liters, if you put in one quarter liter H2O2 and eleven quarter liters (250ml) water in the bottle it will full of three percent H2O2 and the bottle can hold the pressure that the H2O2 will generate.

Three percent Hydrogen Peroxide may be added at up to 3 ml's per liter (2 1\2 tsp. per gallon), but it is recommended that you start at a lower concentration and increase to full strength over a few weeks.

For hydroponic applications, use every reservoir change and replace twenty-five percent (one quarter) every day. Example: In a 100L (25gal) reservoir you would add three hundred ml's (3%) H2O2 when changing the nutrient. You would then add seventy-five ml's more every day.

[Editor’s note: high concentrations of H2o2 can be detrimental to organic additives (such as beneficial additives) and organic nutrient mixtures.]


US Standard
1.28*G/C= Liquid Oz's per day

10*L/C= Ml per day

C= % concentration of H2O2
L= Number of liters in reservoir
G= Number of Gallons in reservoir

Example: How much 3% H202 should I add to 7 gallons of nutes?
1.28*7/3=2.986 Oz's each day.

Where to get it

35% food grade is called “food grade” because it has no toxic impurities. Of course your local hydroponics retailer or web stores have it (there may be shipping restrictions on high strength peroxides). The local feed supplier may have it in small towns. Prices range from fifteen dollars per quarter liter to eighty dollars a gallon. One gallon will treat up to fifty thousand liters of water.

3%5%, 8% Can be found at most drugstores or pharmacies, prices start at a less than a dollar for a one hundred-ml bottle that will treat one hundred liters.

What to do if you already have root rot

In Soil:

Use peroxide water with an anti-fungicide and a high Phosphate fertilizer (9-45-15, 10-52-10, 0-60-0) for additional root growth. Or any other product with rooting hormone dissolved in it is helpful in re-growing roots and is strongly recommended. Water heavily until liquid pours out the bottom of the pot – this method helps flush out stagnant dead water and replaces it with fresh highly oxygenated water. Don't let plants sit in trays full of water, the soil will absorb this water and stay too wet. Don't water again until the pot feels light and the top inch or two of the soil are dry.

In Hydroponics:

Change your nutrients. Add H2O2 to the system. This will add oxygen and chemically eat dead roots. If roots are badly rotted and can be pulled away by hand, you should cut them off. They are already dead and will only rot, causing further problems. Add a fungicide to kill any fungus that is probably present in the rotted tissue to prevent it from spreading. Increase aeration of the reservoir – add air pumps and stones. An air stone under every plant is usually very effective, but will require a larger air pump. Decrease the reservoir temperature, oxygen dissolves better in cold water and disease causing organisms reproduce slower as well. A good temperate range is 62F to 65F; anything above 70F will eventually cause a problem. It is also a good idea to remove any wilting plants from the system and put them on a separate reservoir so they don't infect plants that are still healthy.


The key to productive plants is a healthy root system; Hydrogen Peroxide is a great way to keep your roots healthy. It is a must to ensure the biggest best crops possible and to increase the chances of your plants thriving to harvest. Peroxide users will rarely lose plants or crops to root disease and will harvest larger and more consistent crops.


From: Nigel & Grace
To: Butterfly 101
May 26, 2003

Subject: RE: Holding greenhouse

Buddleia is surprisingly hardy..maybe a lot more hardy than most folks think. Try cutting back flat to the ground in the late fall, put a few bricks around it (Make sure you allow for root spread) and fill with polystyrene/straw/mulch etc. a polystyrene lid with a brick to hold it in place...uncover in the spring when the night lows are above 28f. Once spring has sprung this plant can grow from nothing to 8 or 10ft in a season in ideal conditions. It'll flower a few weeks later than those that are not cut fully back ....but flower it will!

Mobile Hydroponic Milkweed CupsHydroponic milkweed cups

Mobile hydroponic milkweed cups can be taken out of the hydroponic nutrient system and placed into a container with rocks in the surrounding space, and fill partially with water, to below the top of the rocks. Your plants will stay fresh and good eating for the caterpillars, or, use these plants inside containment structures for breeders to lay eggs on. Simply remove the plants and replace with new ones, and collect the eggs. Cut back the plant and return it to the hydroponic system for regrowth.

Click on picture to see enlargement...

A great galvanized folding tomato cage


Hi Farmers,

Check out the link above. These tomato cages would be great frames for butterfly habitats/growing chambers. Use some parasite proof netting to make a sock that fits the frame, pulling it down over the top and down. Attach a wire inside from plant pot to the top of the frame, with your passionvine growing up the wire. Or, use a stake like Nigel suggests. Make a little panel door on one side for access. Use a round disk (plywood or other) on the bottom, sitting on the ground to attach the netting to with glue gun. Voila! Growing chamber!

Linda Rogers

How to Create a "Stained Glass" Butterfly

Right-click HERE to download a PDF file showing how to create a "Stained Glass" Butterfly.

Butterfly (and Moth) Identification Websites

Some of these sites are extensive, others are fairly local in scope.

Butterflies of North America

The USGS site shows photos of North American butterflies at various stages in their lifecycle. Searchable by State:

Here is the equivalent site for moths:

Prairie Watch

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Butterfly Lab

Butterfly and Moth Caterpillars - Identification Guide
(includes links to several related sites)

Butterflies of Europe



Butterfly Sight - a European Butterfly Study

Butterflies of Poland Database

Butterflies of Asia

Butterflies of Singapore

See also the Useful Links page in the Butterfly Education Resources area.


Trap design by Nigel VentersA Design for a Butterfly Trap
Nigel Venters

Dear all,

Here is a design for making an efficient butterfly trap.
If you have any queries let me know.

Click on picture for enlargement...

As for baits much has been written. I've tried them all,
but here are a few pointers:

All sorts of evil potions including rotting meat, faeces, urine etc have been used...but they are really unpleasant and could make you ill....so be careful. The best and easiest all round bait in my opinion is to get some rotten bananas...put them in a bucket with a loose fitting lid...add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of bakers yeast. Keep at around 70f/20C and in 24 hours you will get a foaming mass of the best bait possible. Return bait to bucket each night and stir it up...and change bait every week. You can add beer if you want...but I found it better to drink it when putting the traps up! It's just not really worth it. Do be careful on the amount of sugar you use...the butterflies are after the alcohol and not the sugar...too much sugar produces a jam...which prevents alcohol being produced...it is great for attracting wasps and bees though! Good luck.



Aluminium Frame for Butterfly Cage
Edward Tsyrlin

Aluminium cage frame - Edward TsyrlinHere is a sketch for a butterfly cage. I realise you guys already using similar design with PVC but I could not find small enough PVC joints and aluminium (aluminum) could be somewhat stronger.

To build the cage, get eight 15 mm elbow corner fittings used for automatic watering systems. Aluminium or plastic curtain tubes of the same or slightly smaller diameter will fit tightly into these fittings. Straight fittings can be used to extend the vertical sides of the frame.

Cheers, ET.
Click on picture for enlargement...


Information Source for Butterflies found in each State
Rick Mikula

Subject: Finding b-fly records

Hey gang,

I had to answer some questions for Randy this morning and thought that I would pass this along because it could really help us all. [HERE] you will find a map of the US, click on any state and a page will pop up with a list of butterflies for that state. At the bottom of the page you will even find a map with the confirmed and with the dubious sighting listed. This site is operated and monitored by the likes of Harry Pavulaan, John Shuey, Charles Covell, and Paul Opler who are the big guns that the USDA relies on.

It is a shame that the USDA didn't use their own source of information when deciding the status for the Mourning Cloaks in Texas because if they had they would see that there are confirmed sightings in 60 counties. You can see for yourself [HERE].

Rick Mikula


A warning to anyone using a 'tick killer' on their pet

To: "IBBA Mailing List" <ibba@mgfx.com
Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 10:03 AM
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2002 10:52:06 -0400
From: "The Monarchy" <monarchy@themonarchy.com

Subject: Re: Wanted: Info from Stonefly Breeders having problems

I'll state here what I sent along to Laurel earlier -- if you have pets or if you touch someone's dog that has Advantage or other tick killer on it's body, be aware that this will kill/poison your larvae. I learned this the hard way last year.

Dale McClung experienced this also.

The stuff does not wash off. Do not handle animals during butterfly season - then wear gloves. It's something I learned the hard way as I said, but Dale pointed this out to me once and I found it to be true.

I've had butterflies land on my rug were the dogs lie and then they die .... the story goes on and on - it's toxic stuff.

Hope this can help.



Hasta Gro: Make your own!!

From: Linda Rogers
To: IBBA Mailing List
Sent: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 2:07 PM

Hi members,

A while back there was discussion about the great fertilizer product called HASTA GRO, which is the organic alternative to Miracle Grow. The Hasta Gro is available in Texas through Marshall Grain in Ft. Worth, or through Medina Company in Hondo, Texas. For those of you who want to make your own, the IBBA's advisor, J. Howard Garrett (aka The Dirt Doctor) has the following recipe:

Organic liquid fertillizer/growth enhancer:

Mix the following per gallon of water: 1 cup of *compost tea or liquid humate, 1 ounce liquid seaweed, 1 ounce blackstrap molasses, 1 ounce apple cider vinegar and one cup fish emulsion. (*Compost tea is simply made by putting some compost in a bucket and adding water. Let it steep for a few days, then the liquid is "compost tea".)

The Hasta Gro product is amazing. We used it in the flight cage on the buddleah's and on our pecan trees as a foliar application. We have huge blossoms that appeared almost overnight!!

It's sorta fun mixing up this concoction (whee-yooo! stinky, too!)

Linda Rogers


How to easily spot a web

Many spiders build their webs either in the early morning or evening and leave them up just for that day or night, after which they will eat their web and recycle most of the protein, making new silk for the next day's web.

Fill a sock with cornstarch and while holding this away from your face you can walk by your plants and gently tap the sock. This will produce a cloud of particles that adhere to the sticky spiral making a very dramatic white web. Now all you have to do is find the spider :)

Carol Gonzalez

Carol's Magical Butterflies


Pairing & Egg production

1. Courtship.

It often surprises many people that Butterflies often have elaborate courtship behaviour. This is partly to ensure that species do not interbreed ... although there are secondary physical features that help to ensure this does not happen ... such as claspers, twists, spines on the reproductive organs that differ from species to species. Some species will readily hybridise if they are closely related ...the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) and The Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) can be hand paired to produce a very lovely looking sterile hybrid that tends to display the best characteristics of both parents. Pairings between these two species does not often happen in the wild as this would place both at a distinct disadvantage in natural selection and survival of the fittest!

2. To hand pair or not?

Hand pairing is useful with some species ... but most species will happily pair naturally if the right conditions are provided. I tend to hand-pair Swallowtails and Monarchs because it is generally a very easy process. The benefit of hand-paring is that you know the females are gravid, you can accurately predict production levels, you can select strong healthy adults as breeding stock ... and/or introduce genes from wild stock to prevent in-breeding. Do give it a try ... but don't worry too much if you don't succeed ... use natural pairings.

3. Natural Pairing.

The best method to obtain a natural pairing is in a large outdoor flight cage ... however this is not always possible and most species will pair in a much smaller cage. The best cages are round netted cylinders, (No corners to get stuck in!) but do remember that many species ... especially Swallowtails like to flutter as they feed and lay their eggs. It is very important to make sure that the foodplant reaches close to the top of the cage ... the butterflies spend a lot of time at the top! The main problem is desiccation, spray the cage regularly ... especially in hot sunny weather and do try to ensure there is some dappled shade to allow the butterflies to escape the sun's heat if they need to. Many species that never sip water in the wild will eagerly drink the water from the netting ... this is a sure sign that there is not enough nectar available. Supplement the nectar with some cotton balls soaked in a 5% to 10% sugar water (Fructose is best!) placed on top of the netting ... give these a good spray with water too!


  • Males need to be a few days old before they pair.
  • Females can pair on the day of emergence.
  • Females may not start to lay eggs until a couple of days after pairing

4. Inside your house.

Remember that butterflies need sunshine to do well ... you will need to use lighting, a gentle airflow from a fan will increase activity, raise humidity if things aren't happening. Spray often ... you will be surprised to see how low humidity drops to inside your house ... it becomes a desert!

Nigel Venters 11th April 2002


Spring Migration Map (March 21, 2002)

From: Elizabeth Howard, Journey North
To: <dplex-l@raven.cc.ku.edu
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2002 9:31 AM
Subject: Spring Migration Map (March 21, 2002)

Spring Migration Map (March 21, 2002)

Here's this spring's migration map as of Thursday:


Since that time, monarchs have also been reported in Mississippi and Florida--as well as the unusual North Carolina sighting that Chip forwarded to this list yesterday.

A sudden wave moved into Texas last week, with 72 sightings reported. On March 15th, 18 sightings were reported on that single day. Last year at this time, only 10 sightings had been reported from Texas, so the migration is clearly off to an earlier start.

These maps show a March 15th cold front, and the wind direction during the previous 9 days. Why do you think there were so many sightings on the 15th?

* Surface Map for March 15, 2002

* Wind Maps for Texas, March 6-20



Aphis nerii - Q&A

Q: On the new leaves of our curassavica that are rooting there are "herds" of what I might call "ticks" (on the bottom side). They appear to have the same yellow-gold fluid when crushed as the aphids that we are used to. The body is about 2 mm across, six legs, segmented antennae, two "horns" protruding from rear: three large scale photos (~50 KB each) at: http://asclepias.homestead.com/mar2002.html They do not move that we can tell.

A: It's the oleander aphid Aphis nerii. These are parasitized by a small wasp - Aphidius colemani. Keep the leaves in a closed container and the wasps will emerge in a few days. The wasp larva has pupated inside the body of the aphid and when the adult wasp emerges it will cut a circular flap toward the rear of the abdomen of the aphid and will pull itself upward out of the whole. The wasps are extremely small and are sold commercially to control aphids in greenhouses. Unfortunately, these parasites do not control the aphids well outdoors.

(My apologies, but I received this second-hand and don't know the names of the contributors. If they would care to let me know, I would be happy to credit them.)


Information Resources for Business Owners

Here is a wonderful new resource for all business owners. Are you ever in need of a place to go where you can find information such as:

  • licenses and permits, federal and state?
  • how to hire a lawyer in your state for the specialization you need?
  • how to go to one place to contact by e-mail or otherwise, your federal and state elected officials?
  • research such things as the Federal Register, U.S. Code; Code of Federal Regulations?
  • your rights as a U.S. Citizen?
  • how to start a business?
  • how to dissolve a business?
  • track proposed regulations?
  • share your concerns regarding proposed regulations?
  • determine the exact meaning of a legal term?

Now there is one new site that will allow you to do all this. Recently the Small Business Administration launched the internet gateway "BusinessLaw-Government." You can go to this site here: http://www.businesslaw.gov.

This will put legal information at your fingertips.

This Web Site consolidates and indexes, in one central location, links to credible source of information on 39 areas of general interest, ranging from basic topics such as licenses and permits to highly specialized topics such as e commerce and exporting. The site also includes information specific to each state and territory. The goal of the site is to provide knowledge of basic legal issues so that businesses can identify potential problems early and take preventive action. The site can also be used by business managers, counselors, teachers and legal professionals as an education guide.

Please visit this site today, it is wonderful. Thank you.

Melanie McCarthy


Filters for washing Monarch eggs

When performing egg washes for Monarch eggs, instead of using a coffee filter, try using a non-gauze milk filter. These can be purchased from Ken Ag (800) 338-7953. They are 6-1/2" round disks that are used to filter the milk as it goes into a bulk storage tank. These filters hold up better than coffee filters and let the liquid flow through faster than coffee filters. The Ken Ag company is located in Ashland, Ohio and price is $3 for 100. Other dairy supply companies sell these filters, too.

This tip came from Dale Belt of Dream-Away Acres, to Linda Rogers. Dale has good luck using these neat filters.


Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide

Because of the volumes of Everclear in my pantry, my 3 grown children accused me of being a lush. "Mom, what is all this, and the beer?" My reply was, "The beer is for the lawn and the Everclear is for the butterflies." They were not convinced!

Therefore, I decided to find something else to use to sterilize my butterfly raising equipment. My husband is an internet junkie, and has found that H2O2 is used for a variety of things, including sterilization. He had been using it for quite a while in the kitchen. I now use it on my kitchen counters, my butterfly equipment, and even on my teeth and gums!

We buy ours at the health food store in quart bottles. It is concentrated at about 35% and needs to be kept in the freezer at this concentration. Diluted to 6% it can be kept at room temperature. I put mine in an empty bleach bottle!

I wash my equipment with Simple Green. Something I learned from my friends Doug and Kathleen Ziemer. I really love this stuff! Then I use the 3% peroxide on my equipment at 3% for sterilization.

I encourage each of you to do some research of your own. Find out via the internet and the library everything for which food grade hydrogen peroxide is used. Also, research other alternatives. We are all always on the lookout for better ways of doing things.

Peggy Hatcher.


Growing the various Buddleia species

There are hundreds of different species of Buddleia from around the World...some temperate and some tender. Although all will attract some butterflies...some species of Buddleia have an extraordinary attraction to butterflies which gives us all such pleasure.

Here is a list of species that may interest you with a brief description of it's habits that you might like to consider growing....Buddleias generally come from mountainous regions and do well in rocky dry conditions if they receive plenty of rainfall. Do try and pick some that will do well in your climate....the favourite, "Butterfly bush" are all varieties of Buddleia davidii, a wonderful plant for butterflies, but does not do so well in very hot dry climates. There are other species which are far better suited for these regions!

Buddleia auriculata.

Comes from South Africa...evergreen and more likely to be suited to the Southern USA. Winter flowering species, fragrant. Hardy to -5C

Buddleia lindleyana

Comes from China...Naturalised in South Eastern USA...flowers June/July..but only a few flowers at a time and not so attractive to butterflies as other species. Hardy to -10C

Buddleia crispa

Comes from mountains in Afghanistan...needs a well drained soil. Flowers in the spring if left unpruned...or if pruned in the Spring, it flowers in summer to fall. Worth part pruning to get a long flowering time! Hardy to -5C

Buddleia fallowiana

A favourite of mine..comes from the Himalayan mountains, does well in dry rocky places..flowers August/September. fast growing and more compact than B. davidii...but equally attractive to butterflies. Hardy to -10C

Buddleia "Lochinch"

Hybrid between B.fallowiana & B. davidii, the benefits are a compact shrub ( like B. fallowiana) with increased hardiness. flowers August/September. Hardy to -15C

Buddleia nivea

Comes from the Himalayan mountains, a narrow flower spike. tolerates dry conditions well. flowers July/August. Hardy to -15C

Buddleia globosa

Comes from South American mountains. flowers in ball like panicles that are usually yellow. Not such an attraction to butterflies as the other Buddleia species. Hardy to -10

Buddleia forrestii

From China...a tender plant with quite large individual flowers that hang downwards. Dry well drained soil..Purple flowers June/July...not so attractive to butterflies as other species. Hardy to -5C

Buddleia japonica

Comes from China..sunny dry soils with a long flowering period July/October Purple flowers in familiar hanging position. Very hardy...down to -20C

Buddleia alternifolia

From China this has quite a different appearance to the other species. Small leaves and long drooping flower panicles in May/June. Good in dry conditions. Prune after flowering as next years flowers appear along previous years shoots! Hardy to -20

Buddleia officinalis

From China...quite a tender evergreen shrub..Pink flowers in the early spring February/March...likes a sunny position...does well in dry soils. Hardy to -5C

Buddleia alata

From China...flowers in mid-summer and does well on dry soils...very attractive to butterflies!...a sunny position to do well. Hardy to -10C

Buddleia davidii

The favourite and most common species...there are so many color varieties to choose from, each of us have a preference...but I always think pale lilac is the best draw! Does not do so well in the warmer regions, most varieties flower August/September when pruned in the spring...staggered pruning does increase the flowering period...and some varieties flower for a longer period naturally...the best to my knowledge is a variety called "Beijing" Hardy to -15

Some observations on propagating Buddleias.

Buddleia are so easy to root from cuttings and these can be taken at any time of the growing season...either stick them directly into the soil and keep watered...or place in any well drained soil in pots...bottom heat will help rooting but is not necessary. They also grow well from seed...but as this is a much slower process, don't bother unless you are trying to get a new species or variety going that is unavailable as a cutting.


Buddleia species grow very well in England...and we all tend to plant them directly in the ground or in pots. As they are mainly mountainous species it often amazes me when I see it growing so well half way up a wall, having germinated there from a wind blown seed...with it's roots in the cracks...but no obvious soil visible. These plants are nowhere so vigorous as soil planted plants but they flower really well! However Buddleia is often difficult to keep healthy in the hotter dryer areas of the USA. I was discussing this Problem with Dale McLung at the Orlando conference, and he said his problem was due to nematode worms in the soil that build up as the weather heats up. Obviously they need plenty of watering in these areas, but I think this problem can be overcome by observing the plants that grow in wall cracks here...the plant needs regular watering....but the roots do not like to be too wet all of the time. Try growing Buddleia in a pot with just gravel and only a couple of handfuls of potting compost mixed in. Try to protect the pot (Roots) from being cooked by the heat of the sun....and water regularly with a little tomato fertiliser...let the pot dry out completely between watering and see how this works! I bet this will overcome most of the problems!

Nigel Venters, Vice President IBBA


Shipping Monarch Pupae

Although this is not as wonderful as those boxes used by Swallowtail Farms and is definitely more work, here is a good alternative method for shipping monarch pupae. This has worked pretty well for me.

Through mail order, I purchase cotton rolls (non sterile is fine). One cotton roll which is 12" wide and weighs about one pound is approximately $4.29. You can get these through KV Vet Supply: 1 800 423-8211.

Keep in mind that this is not BATTING or what some people call COTTON BATTING. Batting purchased at K-mart and places like that is not made of cotton. This type of batting is too stiff and airy to protect pupae.

Real cotton will absorb shock and will not allow the pupae to roll around on each layer like the regular batting will.

When I cut a piece off the roll, I can further separate the material to get two sheets out of one. I lay a few sheets down in a box, put a layer of pupae on top, then another layer of cotton, then a layer of pupae on top. You can do several layers like this. Leave lots of room around the edge of the box and put more cotton here so that there is no chance of the pupae touching the cardboard of the box. That's it!

Melanie McCarthy
IBBA Board Member
The Monarchy


Suggest a Tip - or Submit a Tip!

Feel free to suggest any tips you would like to see and we will try our best to get them in for you. Any board member would be happy to hear your suggestions. Or, if you have any tips of your own that you would like to share, please send them in!

International Butterfly Breeders Association, Inc.

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