This is just a crate that some pasta came in. I took removed a few of the wooden slats from each side of the box to form a lid and added some 2x2's for handles.
I bought some screen from Home Depot and stapled it to the sides and top of the box. I didn't put screen at the bottom. The paper is sufficient to keep the little guys from escaping.
Inside the Butterfly Box
I took some yogurt cups, cut slits in the lids, and filled them with water. Then I went out to our garden and cut some Passion Vine to stick in the cups. Zebra Longwings and Gulf Fritillaries lay their eggs on Passion Vine and eat this stuff up like... well, ya know... those people at the Golden Corral who think the world is going to end.
Zebra Longwing Caterpillars
Man, can these guys eat! All those green dots are their poop. They just eat, poop and sleep 24/7. (Pretty nice life, actually.) I have to clean their box every morning and evening or they could get sick from their own feces.
These are Zebra Longwings that have pupated on the lid of the box.
Since they all don't pupate at the same time and I need to keep the lid on the box for the caterpillars that are still eating and growing, I remove the ones that have pupated and hot glue them to these push pins. If I didn't do this, they'd emerge in the cramped space of the box and wouldn't have enough space to dry out their wings.
Zebra Longwings pupae have neat little bellies that look and shine just like metal.
These two emerged at the same time. They'll hang like this sometimes for 5 hours, pumping blood into their wings until they can fly.
These guys seem to be much more docile than the Zebra Longwings. Even if I don't have sugar water they don't seem to mind hanging out on my finger.
They're pretty easy to pick up and sometimes they just don't want to fly away when released.
This is my best pic of Tiny Tim. We called him that because he came out with a broken wing. Poor little guy just couldn't fly. He hung out with me most of the day inside. I kept him on a plant at my desk while I worked and even carried him around the house on my shoulder. I tried to release him a few times but he'd just drop to the ground after being exhausted from flapping his wings so hard and going nowhere.
The shelf I hot glue the pupae to is on our back porch which is screened-in. One the the best feelings in the world is to come home from a long, hard day at work, then go out back to realize a butterfly has emerged and is ready to see the world. I cup them in my hand or get them to crawl on my finger, open the screen door and then release them. The pleasure of releasing these beautiful little guys into the world makes the hard days bearable!