Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


How to Feed Painted Lady Butterflies

| Updated October 06, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Shallow pans

  • Rocks

  • Sponge

  • Orange slices

  • Sugar water

  • Water

  • Tall, flat topped flowering plants

  • One ounce bottle

  • Paper towel

  • Painted Lady butterfly kit

Painted Lady butterflies are very common, found all over the world, except in Australia and Antarctica. There are Painted Lady butterfly kits available from many companies so you can raise them yourself. This has been a popular learning project for children in school and at home. A new trend has surfaced of releasing several Painted Lady butterflies at a wedding. Whether you have a kit or you watch them in your own back yard, you need to know how to feed Painted Lady butterflies at each stage of their lives.

Grow or gather the leaves of plants in the aster, pea, compositae, or malvaceae families such as mallow, asters, sunflowers, thistle and hollyhocks. Larvae feed on stinging nettles and thistle in Europe and Africa. Caterpillars everywhere like the leaves from thistle, fiddleneck, asters, peas, clover and alfalfa.

Plant tall plants, 3 to 6 feet high, in a sunny area. Adult Painted Lady butterflies like asters, thistle, cosmos, sunflowers, blazing star, joe pye weed and ironweed. The flat-topped flowers make it easy for the butterflies to gather nectar and bright colors attract them. Place rocks among the plants so the butterflies have a place to rest and keep warm.

Include a watering place for butterflies near the plants. Butterflies need water, but they can't drink out of puddles, ponds or a birdbath because there's no place for them to rest. Place shallow pans of water near the plants or put a sponge in a birdbath that reaches the surface of the water.

Lay fresh slices of oranges in a shallow pan of sugar water. The bright color attracts Painted Lady butterflies and there's enough space for them to rest on the oranges and feed. Replace the orange slices every day.

Mix a 5 percent sugar and water solution. Put 1/2 ounce in a 1-ounce bottle. Roll a paper towel and put it in the solution with the top just sticking up over the top of the bottle like a short straw. The butterflies will be able to eat from it.

Buy a Painted Lady butterfly kit that includes everything you need to raise the butterflies from egg to release.