When do new butterflies feed

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  • #12878

    HI All

    How long before they usually search for food after hatching?

    Does anyone have information as to how long before a newly hatched butterfly needs food before it will die?

    Angie

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  • #16188

    VickySteele
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    Hi Angie. Same as Jacqui, I read that a new butterfly will not want to feed for about 24 hours. If you can’t release your butterflies for a while, a sugar (or honey and water) solution like you use, made fresh each day, is a good way to feed them. And I always dunk their feet in a glass of water afterwards so they can splash around and get clean. I found a crumpled butterfly this time last year and he lived for 15 weeks on home-made nectar. He preferred it to fresh flowers 🙂 And I too find that weak ones respond really well to it. I have noticed that autumn butterflies seem to know that food will be scarce and are more keen to feed sooner than spring/summer butterflies. My autumn ones are always keen to try food the next day, while only some of the spring/summer ones will do so, however if they have been out for 48 hours or more they are getting quite hungry! The more energy they use, the more food they need, so keeping them in a cool, quiet place will lessen their need for so much food.

    #16184

    Thanks Jacqui
    I had just never seen them feeding in my garden so wondered how they get on after flying off! protective mum….
    I have used a sugar solution before 1/4 tsp sugar to 1 tsp water for those that could not be relased for a while or were weak.

    Angie

    #16182

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Angela, I believe I read somewhere where 24 hours is about the norm – but can’t recollect where I found that out. What I do is give them a bunch of flowers (bottlebrush is great, or most annuals) to sit on if I can’t release them that day – or if I want to keep them a lot longer, like the weather’s not good, I put them in my back bedroom, which is replicating a cool, cloudy day.

    You see, when they emerge, they do so when it’s warm and bright. So if the weather suddenly changed, they’d take longer to dry out, and they’d sit there until things improved. Their metabolism slows right down, they store their energy. When things improve that’s when they get active, try out their wings and eventually they’re away.

    Some people make sure that they feed -I’ve heard of them overseas putting their butterflies in feeders where they put the feet into syrup and make sure they’re feeding. Butterflies taste with their feet. When they’ve been fed they wash their feet under a running tap! to ensure there’s no syrup still left there, which would be bad.

    There’s often debate on which is the best artificial food to make up – some people in the US use Gatorade. I prefer the natural way.

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