I've been doing some more reading about raising painted lady butterflies. It's fun having caterpillars in little containers, but we can't really see what they are up to. So we decided to create a more natural habitat for some of the caterpillars.
The first step was finding some type of container. Fortunately, my daughter had an unused terrarium stored in the garage. It's a plastic container with holes in the lid. I've seen them used for things like gerbils.
There are lots of different containers that could work. I found some pictures from a classroom where they used shoe boxes for their containers!
Make sure the container has small holes in the lid. If there are large holes, you'll need some sort of screen to keep the caterpillars inside. From my reading, I found that some caterpillar cages have filter paper on top for them to attach too when they are forming their chrysalis. We put a large piece of filter paper across the top to make sure none of them could crawl out in the night.
I did some research on plants that painted lady caterpillars like to eat and found out that thistles are at the top of the list. Other plants they like are borage, hollyhocks and mallow. I have a large supply of thistles in my garden and even some borage so that's enough to give it a try.
The kids decided what to put in the habitat. The ground is mostly moss and they added sticks for them to crawl around on and my son has learned how to pick thistle leaves without getting pricked.
We did put a couple of dishes of their nutrient in the habitat too.
Read more about raising Painted Lady Butterflies.