Santa Clarita and Northern Los Angeles County Area
Collecting Equipment Projects, Ideas and Sources
Butterfly and Moth Site
Sleeves for rearing Lepidoptera larvae on live plants
Host plant cuttings are commonly used to feed larvae in containers
while in captivity. However, caring for captive larvae can be very time
consuming, and the confined living conditions can increase the chance of
Ideally, larvae should be raised in a natural outdoor environment, where
a continuous supply of fresh (live and growing) food and air are
present. Larvae need to be confined to the host plant to prevent escape,
and protected from the many kinds of predators looking for a free meal.
A strong, flexible, air and moisture-permeable netting, with a very fine
mesh is a good solution for the job.
This technique is known as "sleeving" the larvae on the host plant. A
simple tube of netting is slipped onto a branch of the host plant (or
sometimes the entire plant), the larvae are introduced onto the branch,
and then the ends of the tube are tied closed with twine, cable ties,
Sleeves can be purchased ready to use, or made at home with a few
yards of netting and a sewing machine. I opted for an adhesive solution
instead of sewing, to save time and effort. Here's some basic coverage of
Selecting a fabric:
I hunted high and low for a suitable netting. It needed to be strong,
tightly woven, UV resistant, air/water permeable, and cost effective.
The only suitable products I could find came from Bio-Quip. For testing,
I selected the off-white Dacron Chiffon, 60" wide, $6.55 per linear yard
(BioQuip.com product # 7250C) and the green
polyester (BioQuip.com product # 7250B) which
is 42" wide and $3 per linear yard.
Other materials may also work well - let me know if you find any great deals!