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Santa Clarita and Northern Los Angeles County Area
Butterfly and Moth Site

Low and 0-cost ideas for raising lepidoptera. Be Green - recycle!

Emerging Enclosures/Cages
These are made from carboard cans which originally contianed powdered food and drink mixes. They are typically about 5" in diameter and can be from 6" to 12" tall. The bottoms are usually metal or carboard, with a metal rim around the top and a plastic lid.

They are great for housing pupae while waiting for them to emerge, or even rearing small larvae. The window on the side allows for easy viewing if the can is placed on a shelf near a light source. The same idea could be applied to square containers or even boxes with lids.
To start construction, cut small "windows" out of opposite sides of the can, smaller than those shown. Gradually make them larger while checking to make sure there is enough of the can left between the windows and below the rim to support the lid. The can should have a metal rim where the lid snaps-on, which should help stiffen the top. If you cut away too much of the sides, or too close to the rim, the top of the can will bend down whenever the lids is pressed into place. I've found that about 1/2" below the rim, and 3" between the windows works well. Still you will have to be careful when pressing the lid into place.

Clear plastic wrap can then be cut to shape and taped around the edges to make the windows. If you are careful, you can make the windows wrinkle-free and very clear for viewing. It might take a couple of tries until you get the hang of it. It's somewhat of an art form!

The size and shape of the windows is up to you. You'll get the best viewing and ease of use if you can make the windows as square and large as possible while maintaining the strength integrity of the upper part of the can itself. The pictures should provide a good visual representation.

If the can will only be used to house pupae for emerging, then the lid can be left intact, and the pupae can be taped by their silken pads directly to the plastic or even taped to the sides of the can. Taping some cloth or other material to the top or sides, near where the pupae are attached, is a good idea for the emerging adult to cling to. Some species can hang successfully only by their pupae shells until the their wings are dry, and others lose their grip easily and fall to the bottom, which can result in deformed wings. If larvae or any fresh plant material will be placed in the the can, the center of the plastic lid can be cut out and replaced with stretched nylon stocking, and taped around the edges to provide ventilation. This is essential to prevent any moisture build-up or condensation in the can.

If you are lucky enough to find a transparent container to start with, most of the work is already done. This container came from costco and originally contained dog treats!

I cut some of the center of the lid out and replaced it with nylon stocking, stretched and taped around the edges to form a semi-transparent and very well ventilated lid. This container was used to raise Pale Swallowtail (Papilio Eurymedon) larvae.

Lastly, some examples of the drink mix container idea, which have been in service for several years now, are shown. You can make out the swallowtail pupae in a few of the containers. In some cases, I have reared larvae in them, and allowed them to climb to the top where they pupate and eventually emerge, all in one container.

All of these containers sit on a shelf right above my work area so I can keep an eye on them. The pupae, when ready to emerge, will become transparent. This is easy to see through the windows, and gives me an opportunity to prepare for photos or time lapse photography.

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