Painted Lady Problems

Painted Lady

Painted Lady Feeding on Thistle

Rearing butterflies can be a compelling educational experience for young biology students. Venders market kits with eggs and artificial diet that can be used to rear a variety of caterpillars including Painted Lady Butterflies. Occasionally, the artificial diet fails. I recently responded to a desperate teacher: “Help. I have starving caterpillars. What can I do now?”

Fortunately, common host plants for painted lady caterpillars, including thistle, mallow and hollyhock, can be found in the fields and gardens of Northern Indiana in late April. My advice: send the students on a collecting trip for food to feed the caterpillars. This will provide an additional lesson in botany and the finicky dietary preferences of caterpillars as well as an excuse to enjoy the warm spring weather.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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