Rearing Caterpillars: What can I use for a Container?

Do I have to buy special materials to raise caterpillars? What is the best container to use to rear butterfly larvae? Is it going to cost a lot of money?

These are questions that are asked ALL the time. There are no right or wrong answers. In fact, if you were to Google the questions, chances are, there are lots of products available for purchase! But, guess what…you can easily MAKE your own container for very little money. You can even use RECYCLED materials so the container costs you…nothing!

Important Note: If you plan on using just ONE container to rear your caterpillars, then be sure that you do not raise too many in that one container. Overcrowding is not a good thing. Just an early warning…

Clear, plastic 16-ounce deli containers with lids make FABULOUS caterpillar rearing containers. You know, those containers where you buy 16-oz of potato salad? They're PERFECT! They are big enough for larvae to complete an entire life-cycle.

The first thing you need to do is wash both the lid and container well. Then, using a needle OR corkscrew, punch some holes in the lid, from the INSIDE of the lid out. Don't use a nail—the holes will be too big.

You can then line the bottom with a cut-to-fit coffee filter (or not–the choice is yours—I do it just to make clean up easier). Place your host plant leaves inside then your larva. Pop the lid on and you are done!

Remember to clean out the container daily. It is also important to WASH it regularly as well. (I keep several containers handy so I simply transfer the larvae to another container while the containers are being cleaned.)

When the larvae are close to pupating, simply cut a round coffee filter to fit over the top, put the lid back on, and that's it. The larvae will pupate onto the filter. You can also place clothespins (as shown) or chopsticks or whatever inside for the caterpillars to climb upon.

Special Note: If you are interested in purchasing a lot of these containers, then go to a restaurant supply store like Smart 'n Final where they sell the 16-oz deli containers in packages of 50. The lids are sold separately.