A Butterfly Conservatory

msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)June 28, 2011

Hello again,

I am just beginning to read through these posts, and see that some of you actually keep a conservatory for butterflies. Can you please elaborate more on this concept. What is the smallest one a person could build and have it work? Photos would be great here, as well as schematics...or nearly so, lol.

What butterflies can a person keep in one? Are there species that would not survive in one? Mine would be overwintering in zone 9A/B edge. What plants do well in these enclosed spaces,

and work as hosts for the butters too, of course...

Any ideas for me? :)

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

None of us keep conservatories, if by conservatory, you mean a totally enclosed, usually glass, house for adult butterflies to live in, like butterfly houses in such places as Callaway Gardens. Those butterfly houses keep tropical butterflies, not our native species.
We raise our own caterpillars (to keep them from being eaten/killed by the large variety of caterpillar predators) by taking the eggs or young caterpillars from their host plants and raising them in the safety of various types of enclosures. When they emerge as adults, we release them to live outside as they normally would. We don't raise any caterpillars other than those native to our own areas.
I think to have an actual conservatory, you need to jump through all kinds of governmental hoops with permits and licenses and then undoubtedly inspections, I don't know the particulars. I've never heard of an at-home, small scale conservatory, I have no clue about that.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 9:02PM
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Sometimes I post about the arboretum that I volunteer at. We have a shade cloth enclosed structure that we raise butterflies in. However, I don't do this at home. Miss Sherry is right. If you have butterflies from anywhere but your own state (with a few exceptions), you are required to have a permit. The rules state that you are required to have an enclosure that prevents escape. That is why most exotic butterfly houses you visit have a double door system and inspection of guests as they leave to ensure no butterflies escape. They are considered potential agricultural pest.

You could purchase a large screen house and raise some of your local butterflies for release in there. Depending on where you live certain species do better than other. However, most of us prefer to raise butterflies to release in our gardens. Butterflies are having problems in so many areas due to loss of habitat, that we like to try to re-create as much habitat as we can for them in our yards. In addition, there are requirements that butterflies need to be healthy that are hard to provide in captivity.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 9:45PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

Where does one get these screen houses? How big are they? BTW, TY for the quick and detailed replies. :) I was thinking of only native butterflies, it hadn't even dawned on me about foreign species. I just thought it might be nice to have them free to grow out like that (protectedf) and then release them into my gardens. I am beginning to establish butterfly plants now. I have noticed, that I am the only yard in the neighborhood that has any. (which is sad) My neighbors seem to have very little appreciation of the outdoors, especially the smaller things that give people like us (gardeners and such) so much pleasure.
If you are using little enclosures, how big are those? How does one start? I really do like the screen house idea.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 10:02PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I've included a link to where Elisabeth volunteers. If you watch the video, you can see an outside shot near the video's beginning. It is a BIG place and a custom construction job.

A place where I volunteer uses a screened gazebo like you would buy at Lowes. It is circular with maybe a diameter of 12'. The door was replace with netting that has lots of folds in it and hangs down to the ground (I believe it is held on by those big black clips you use to hold papers together). Makes it tougher for humans and insects to enter and exit. You need it to be tough for insects to enter, otherwise your enclosure can become a buffet for insect predators/parasites.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cox Arboretum Butterfly House

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:23PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

The thread I have linked has a couple pictures of homemade enclosures one of our members made.

Here is a link that might be useful: The great escape!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 2:20AM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

Thank you kind folks. Wow, great site links, how ingenious some people are. I just might have hubby build one this fall
for next spring. I can spend the summer and fall stocking up on the proper plant species.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 10:00AM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

I have a small wood/screen cage that my husband built me that I keep on a covered back porch. I'd like to have a 2nd one so I'm going to start pleading soon. :-) I'll try to post a picture if I can find one from last year.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 7:55PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Found this pic from last year!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 8:07PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

That is wonderful! Thank you Laura. What are the cords running to it used for? What kind of butterflies were you keeping?
I could have my honey make one of these in a week or so ;)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 10:21PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

No cords running to it - it just happens to sit in front of the outlet where my patio fountain is plugged in. Its' just a wood box with a hinged lid covered in screen.

~Laura :-)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 1:24AM
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