Butterfly cages: an ideal solution for a butterfly habitat or something else?

A butterfly cage is an enclosure designed for butterfly rearing and display. This form of insect cage offers several advantages, such as protection, a clean environment, and mobility, but it comes with some disadvantages and ethical questions.

Butterfly cages: common use

butterfly cages
Butterfly cages

Butterfly cages are protective habitats ideal for the safety and provision of natural sunlight for the rearing of butterflies. For example, it is an excellent Monarch butterfly habitat where Monarch caterpillars can safely turn into chrysalides.

Butterfly cages come in handy to save endangered butterfly species from extinction, as the butterflies will be under careful management.

Butterfly cages protect caterpillars from predators like birds, small animals, spiders, ants, earwigs, and mantids which are a considerable threat to the butterfly’s life cycle.

In some cases, butterfly cage serves to help with raising MonarchSwallowtail butterflies, and other species, as well as display and carry them. This critter cage can also act as a release cage when butterflies reach adulthood.

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What is a butterfly cage kit?

A butterfly cage kit is a complete package of everything needed to raise butterflies in a butterfly enclosure. Butterfly cage kits may include the habitat, instructions, and a booklet.

For example, a Nature Bound butterfly growing kit on Amazon includes the following:

  • Pop-up reusable butterfly house, which is 13 inches tall and collapsible. That habitat is enough to allow caterpillars to change to chrysalis and cocoons, and emerge as butterflies
  • Instructions on how to set up the habitat and care for the butterflies
  • A bug booklet

A butterfly cage kit is a great way to introduce children and adults to the fascinating butterfly life cycle. You can also DIY a foldable or heavy-duty butterfly habitat insect cage from mesh, bricks, and host plants.

What are the pros and cons of a butterfly cage?

The main pros are:

  • Prevents intrusion of predators like birds, wasps, spiders, and mice
  • Mobility ensures that the butterfly cage can be moved to the desired place (in the sun, under a shade, or inside the house, away from the rain)
  • Keeps off parasites and parasitoids that pose a threat to the butterfly
  • Spacious interior to accommodate host plants
  • Easy to clean and disinfect to reduce chances of diseases and viruses that can affect the butterflies
  • Easily accessible to follow up on the butterfly’s behavior and growth
  • Provides education and knowledge gained through the routine care of big and small butterflies
  • Prevents the extinction of endangered butterflies species, especially the dwindling number of Monarch butterflies

Key cons to know include:

  • Butterflies raised in cages tend to be slightly weaker than the wild ones
  • Butterfly cages don’t provide the natural ecosystems that butterflies need

What is a cage made out of?

Butterfly cages
Butterfly cages

Common materials needed to put up a butterfly cage include:

  • Tulle or bridal netting
  • Quick-drying glue
  • Ribbon
  • Nuts
  • Washers
  • String
  • Cardboard
  • Twill tape
  • Light chain

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, commonly known as vinyl or breathable mesh cages, is usually used to observe butterflies and improving airflow inside the cage.

Can butterflies survive in a cage?

Butterflies can survive in a cage so long as the proper guidelines are followed. 

The butterfly cage should provide a serene habitat for the butterfly to survive. You must ensure that the cage is designed professionally with good airflow, have disease prevention measures, no use of chemicals, and availability of host plants for the butterfly to feed and perch on.

How big of a cage do butterflies need?

A round butterfly cage with a diameter of 1-2 feet and a height of 5-6 feet is ideal for rearing a butterfly. The cage should be safe, well-ventilated, and escape-proof.

How to grow butterflies in a cage safely?

Follow this simple guide to growing butterflies in a cage:

  • Place the cage where there are lots of natural light
  • A butterfly cage should be sanitized before and after each use to prevent diseases and viruses
  • Constant supply of fresh host plants to act as food for the butterfly and for the butterfly to perch on
  • Avoid keeping butterflies and caterpillars in the same cage

How long can you keep butterflies in a cage?

The butterfly cage should not be a long-term habitat for butterflies as you can set them free after 2 or 3 days, considering that they have a 1-week lifespan. 

Are butterfly growing kits ethical?

This depends on your personal opinion of the value of these delicate and beautiful creatures.

Raising butterflies in a rearing cage interferes with the genetic diversity in their natural ecosystem, thus affecting their breeding and population.

When you celebrate a wedding reception or a birthday party, and you feel you want the presence of butterflies to grace that occasion, you don’t have to rear them in captivity. A more humane way would be to hold that event near a butterfly garden rather than moving the butterflies from their environment to unfamiliar territory.

On the other hand, appreciating the butterflies by caring for them and ensuring that the creatures are well cared for in protected and safe cages brings satisfaction.

I prefer to appreciate butterflies while they are in their natural ecosystem.

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