Raising Butterflies

This website “raisingbutterflies.org” is an encyclopedia of knowledge designed both to help beginners understand the basics and to encourage seasoned veterans to collaborate the specifics of raising butterflies from Western North America and beyond.

If you are new to raising butterflies and want to learn some basic first steps, check out our beginner section.

If you would like to learn more about how to locate butterfly eggs and caterpillars in the wild and want to learn what types of containers and equipment you need to take care of them, please visit our techniques and setups section.  (This section has lots of information.)

Lastly, if you’re looking to rear a specific butterfly species or want to learn strategies as it applies for a given taxon, or even a species group, please visit our species specific section.  This section will provide a report based upon 20 key parameters of butterfly rearing.

DIY Monarch Sanctuary

What a better way to start a butterfly garden than to raise your own butterflies? Building a monarch sanctuary will not only increase the odds of caterpillars turning into butterflies, but you will have the opportunity to enjoy the metamorphosis of this beautiful creature! Once the chrysalis has hatched, lift up the cage to let the butterfly free.

Below are simple instructions on how to create a sanctuary in your backyard for less than $10.00. Most of these items you may already have at home!

You will need the following:

  1. A three prong tomato cage (33″ height x 12″ diameter).  Turn it upside down to make sure it sits level.
  2. 5 gallon paint strainers—comes in a package of two.
  3. A pizza pan or flat object for the base.
  4. Bolt clippers for cutting the excess wire of the tomato cage.


Bend the tomato cage prongs towards the center so they form a small dome shape for the top of your sanctuary. Clip off the shorter ends with a bolt clipper to avoid sharp edges which could puncture the paint strainer. Slip the paint strainer over the dome and the rest of the cage so it fits securely. Place the sanctuary on top of your base in an area with morning sun. Now you are ready to add native milkweed and caterpillars!


It is a good idea to wipe the base off regularly to avoid spreading disease to monarchs. Add fresh milkweed clippings to your monarch sanctuary on a daily basis if not using a potted plant.