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Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Posted by butterflymomok 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 17, 10 at 10:57

I have referred to a butterfly cage that I made from a tomato cage in some of my postings. I learned about using the tomato cages from Monarch Network Teachers' Workshop that I was privileged to volunteer for this summer. If you have a chance to attend one of these workshops, you will learn a lot even if you have been raising butterflies for 30 or more years.

I have modified the directions and found that the paint straining bags from Lowes (Thanks to Runmede) work wonderfully.

1. You need a 3 prong tomato cage--turn it upside down and make sure it sets level. These are $1.87 at our local Lowes.

2. Get the 5 gallon paint strainers--they come two to a package for about $2.47.

3. Buy 3 for $1.50 aluminum pizza pans at Walmart.

4. You will need a good pair of bolt clippers or something that can cut the wire prongs that go into the ground on the tomato cage.

Trim the tomato cage prongs so that when you bend them they will meet in the center of the narrow end of the cage. Slip the paint strainer over and set the cage in an aluminum pizza pan--it will fit snuggly. Now you are ready to add your plants and caterpillars. You can put paper towels in the bottom to catch frass. It's easy to clean.

Here is a photo:

Rearing cage

You can slip off the cover and wash between broods. The caterpillars have plenty of space to pupate and emerge in excellent condition. And the total cost is less than $4.00!

Sandy


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Thanks for posting the instructions, Sandy, as we discussed by tc this week. I am anxious to try this method, as well as another method I just learned about utilizing those cookie tins we often get cookies or other baked goods/candy at Xmas. With these all you need to do is use window screening, enough to roll up and fix inside the bottom tin. I am going to make mine about 18" high, and then use the top of the tin as a lid. I will probably just hot glue the overlap of the screening to close it off, unless someone has a better idea. You can also staple it closed, and then you can also use some kind of a flat wooden stick or piece of lumber to stable the ends of the screening to for more stabilization. Make sense?

What you end up with is a tubular cage of window screening with a top and bottom utilizing the cookie tin. The ones I have are about 12-15" in diameter. You can just pick up the tube to clean out the frass from the bottom of the container. Between broods, you can just use soap and water in the sink to clean the top, bottom, and screen and hose off the screen outdoors. Will probably use paper toweling in the bottom, or an old pie tin or something similar.

Gotta run to Lowe's, Sandy! I really like your concept best, but thought I'd include the one I read about in case someone decides to use it, too.

Susan


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Looks like a great rearing cage. Thanks for posting the great instructions and the picture.

But what did you do to contain the female and get eggs? Do you catch a male and a female and put them both in the cage? I'm sorry I really am a newbie at this!


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Wow. I am really very impressed. Just look at that terrific cage, and for such a meager investment. Amazing ingenuity! Love it! I am saving this one for future reference. Thank you so very much for posting it!!


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

I am gonna go ahead and attach info on construction of the cage I described (complements of the Butterfly Society of Virginia, for clarity.

I hope that Larry_Gene may put all of these in our FAQs????

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterfly Cages


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Jeanner,

The female was one I raised from eggs. She had just eclosed from her cocoon. I put her outside (in the cage) so she could "call" males. What I expected to happen, was to find a male on the outside of the cage. I would then put him in with my female to mate. As it turned out, the cage was tipped over, not for sure how this happened as I didn't witness it. Apparently a male had gotten in, as there were eggs laid on the side of the cage. But my female was alone when I found her. However, there were 13 males perching in different locations on my patio! Now I will just have to wait to see if the eggs are viable.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Those paint strainers from Lowes do not keep some the predators out. I had one very bad year with flies attacking my larvae outside. But, I have successfully been enclosing Spicebush on the trees and raising them in the paint strainers. I use surveyors tape to wrap tightly around and tie off the bottom of the bag.

I've taken the Monarch Teacher Network workshop and helped with two of their workshops in the Virginia in the past.

Their "Journeys and Transformations The Monarch Butterfly Story DVD" is incredible and cheap--scroll down a bit to see how to order it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monarch Teacher Network


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Time to add new rearing cages to your inventory!


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Sandy,

Does this look like the strainer you purchased at your Lowes. I was going to try this last year but cannot find a strainer like you have. I bought what was ID'ed by an attached tag as a 5 gal strainer but it is tiny and looks nothing like what you use.

I tried to look up the strainer on line but it doesn't show a photo of the strainer, just the package.

Mary

Blue Hawk 2-Pack 5-Gallon Plastic Bucket Paint Strainer

Item #: 126394 : Model #: 11583/12FF

Here is a link that might be useful: Blue Hawk 2 pack 5 Gal Bucket strainer


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Mary,

The package is different, but 5 gallon is the size I buy. Looks like they have gone up in price. They also sell the 1 gallon strainers that are small. Hope you are able to find them. If you don't, message me, and I'll get some for you and mail them to you.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Thank you, Sandy, for your reply and kind offer.

I will order a package and will let everyone know if this brand of strainer turns out to look like the one you've recommended. I'm beginning to think the strainer that I purchased at my local Lowe's might be something that is used with some type of spray equipment. It is clearly marked as a 5 gal paint strainer. The Lowe's person who helped me said it was a 5 gal and it was the only paint strainer they had. I can use the netting for something sooner or later but do want to try your setup as it would make it so easy to clean. I raise the little cats inside so no problem with the netting not being totally critter proof. I currently use the commercial containers and while they work well, this looks to be so much easier to work with.

Thanks again for sharing the setup, the materials and the photo. Excellent instructions.

Mary


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Mary,

Make sure you get the smallest tomato cage. I was wondering if this might be the problem. I think I got the cages at Walmart as Lowes only had bigger ones.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

I'm thinking if I buy the pizza pans first, that would help me know if I'm getting the correct sized tomato cage. Would you guesstimate the height of the upended cage from top wire to bottom wire circle? I'll check wal-mart for the smaller sized cage.

Mary


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Mary,
About 36 inches with the prongs, so about 24 inches once the prongs are trimmed and bent to the center. And about 12 inches in diameter.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Thank you, Sandy. Will let you know if I'm able to find right sizes to build them.

Mary


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Update on the 5 gal paint strainer package I mentioned earlier in this thread. This brand of strainers is not large enough to use with the tomato cage Sandy described.

If I can't locate a brand that fits properly, I can easily make some from netting purchased at Hancock's Fabric Store. I really think this will work better for me as an indoor rearing cage than the commercial ones I've purchased. So much easier to open, clean and add fresh MW. Using heavier sheer material, this rearing cage setup might also work well outdoors, providing something is used to stablize for wind.

My thanks once again for the photo and description. Love this idea!

Mary


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Mary,

Share with us what you come up with. We used netting in the Monarch Teacher's Workshops, and whipped it to the base of the tomato cage, and then pulled it up over the cage and gathered the top and secured it with a rubber band. You can't wash these, but they are a lot cheaper than buying cages.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Sandy

... sorry to be so long in getting back with the results of my project of making indoor butterfly rearing cages.

I ended up buying netting at Hancock's. It was on sale at $1.39 a yd and it is 50 inches wide so plenty of netting for not much money. The smallest tomato cage my Wal-Marts is carrying this year is about 13" diameter at the big end, too large to fit in the throw away Pizza pans I purchased. Today I discovered smaller tomato cages at my local nursery and they are the correct circumference at 12 inches.

In the photo below, the cage on the right is one I put together using the smaller tomato cage and it turned out quite well. I set the tomato cage upside down in the middle of a piece of netting, pulled up the netting and secured at the top. Then I ran a bead of Gorilla glue around the wire at the bottom, making sure to press the netting against the wire. When dry, I took scissors and trimmed out the center netting to create the opening at the bottom.

The one on the left I created by using netting to form a tube with a french side seam, then hand sewed the netting to the base. It required a bit less netting. I don't have a sewing machine so had to do the seam by hand. I think using a sewing machine, it wouldn't take but a few minutes to create the tube and to run a small casing on the bottom of the tube, insert a bit of elastic in the casing and pull it tight enough to fit under the bottom wire. This way, the netting could be gently washed and disinfected, and used over and over. I still might be able to disinfect these in their present configuration but sitting them out on the deck and spraying with a light bleach mix, rinsing well and allowed to air dry in the sunshine.

I didn't think I'd have the hand strength to cut the wires so I just bent them back inside the 'top' of the cage.

If anyone ever locates the large 5 gal paint strainer that will work with the small tomato cages, please come here and let us know the maker and model #. I've been unable to locate strainers large enough to fit on the tomato cages.

After using more than a few types of rearing apparatus, this style provides two important benefits for me. Easy to clean by lifting the cover to clean pan and replace fresh 'diaper' material :-) and for ease of replacing fresh food. The cats will enjoy excellent, healthy air movement plus enjoy being able to climb when they're ready to create their chrysalis. I expect the netting will provide the rough surface they favor when looking for just that right spot to form their J.

I'll have to get the baby cats into their 2nd instar before putting them in the big cages but that is something I've always done anyway.

I will report back after I've raised a group of little cats and give a summery of how they worked for me.

Mary

photos of my homemade rearing cages:

Here is a link that might be useful: a source for very fine mesh fabric for outdoor use


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Mary,

These look a lot like the original cages we made at Monarch Teachers' Network workshop. We used rubber bands to secure the tops instead of ribbon. I will check out our local Lowe's and find the numbers for the paint strainers.

And it DOES take a lot of strength to cut the wires. I bought a pair of wire cutters to use--also found at Lowe's.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

For Mary--Checked at Lowe's yesterday and they had the cages. These are the 33 inch cages for 1.97 each. And they had the 5 gallon paint strainers that fit. They have gone up in price to three something. They let me open a package and check them out before I bought them. The brand is different than what I bought before, but they look the same. The prongs on the cages have to be bent totally in at the first rung for the strainer to fit.

HTH,

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Also, don't need to use the pizza pans, just set them on newspapers and lift the cages up to change the papers.

Sandy


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Hi Sandy,

Thank you so much for this additional information. I will go to Lowe's and check for the smaller tomato cages. These are going to be wonderful rearing cages. I had to cut into the sides of some of my small commercial rearing cages last fall as there are always a few who favor the zipper for their J, making it impossible to unzip to clean and refresh food for those still eating. These cages should do away with that problem! Absolutely love this idea!

Mary


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

  • Posted by cghpnd 7 / Virginia (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 9, 13 at 8:46

Wonderful ideas ladies!
We made one last night with the tomatoe cage and the 5 gal paint strainer bags from home depot. I have no idea what size the cages were before we did this. We received the cages from a generous freecycler. I do know they are 2 different sizes.
Are these strainers good enough to leave outside so that predators wont be able to get in?

I haven't seen a Monarch since the beginning of baseball season so we bought some eggs. (My son wanted them for his birthday, how cute).


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

Hello everyone... newbie here, both to the forum and raising butterflies. The tomato cage idea is genius! I'm so glad I happened upon this post via Google.

Given the dimensions of the finished project, what's the maximum number of cats that can be housed inside? I have 3 black swallowtails currently in individual hermit crab cages (LOL) and each just attached to a twig last night. I was thinking of gently moving the twigs and somehow rest them against the netting inside the cage.


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RE: Homemade Rearing/Eclosing Cage

I've raised a couple of dozen caterpillars in the tomato cage before. There is plenty of room for lots of food, and they usually pupate on the wire framework, so there's lots of pupation space. Glad you found us!

Sandy


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