How to Make Artificial Painted Lady Caterpillar Food

Did you know that painted lady caterpillars need a host plant to survive? If you’re looking to help these beautiful creatures, learn how to make artificial painted lady caterpillar food. It’s easy and only takes a few simple ingredients!

Not only will the caterpillars appreciate your efforts, but you can take pride in knowing that you’re helping to keep them safe and healthy.

To keep your painted lady caterpillars healthy and happy, you need to provide them with food. This guide will teach you how to make artificial painted lady caterpillar food using common household ingredients.

How to Make Artificial Painted Lady Caterpillar Food

Making your food is a cost-effective way to ensure that your caterpillars have everything they need to grow and thrive. Plus, it’s a fun project for the whole family! So let’s get started!

Summary: In this creative short summary, we learn how to make artificial painted lady caterpillar food. First, gather some ingredients, such as vegetable oil, water, and food coloring. Then, mix the ingredients together until you have a paint-like mixture. Next, use a spoon to drop the mixture onto a piece of paper or a plate. Finally, let the caterpillars eat the artificial painted lady food!

What Tools and Materials You’ll Need

  1. Two clear plastic cups
  2. One sheet of paper towel
  3. Potting soil or dirt
  4. Green food coloring Water
  5. One tablespoon of sugar

Step by Step Guide: How to Make Artificial Painted Lady Caterpillar Food

Step 1:

Pour two cups of dirt into each clear plastic cup.

Step 2:

Make the sugar water mixture by mixing one tablespoon of sugar with five tablespoons of water in one small bowl and then add four drops of green food coloring (please note that if you want a darker shade, add more drops).

Step 3:

Mix your sugar-water mixture well and then put it into the other clear plastic cup.

Step 4:

Set up one of your cups with dirt in front of the other cup, and then place a piece of paper towel over the top to cover both cups (not too tight).

Step 5:

Poke five small holes into the paper towel on top of both cups; two near the top, two near the bottom, and one in the middle of the paper towel.

Step 6:

Place your cup of dirt with the sugar water mixture on top of the clear plastic cup with dirt underneath it (a paper towel covers it). You may need to adjust the position of your second cup so that you can fit both cups under the same paper towel.

Step 7:

Place your painted lady caterpillar in the dirt and then give him about two tablespoons of water (make sure that you do not put too much water, or it can kill your little guy).

You will need to check on your little critter every day; he may eat the fleshy parts of the leaf, so you will need to cut off the leaves that are starting to get eaten. If there are any mold spots on your leaf, pick it up and replace it with a fresh one right away.

Step 8:

Continue doing this every day for two weeks or until your caterpillar has turned into a chrysalis (it can take about four days for a caterpillar to turn into a chrysalis).

 When Chrysalis Forms It Will Transform Into a Butterfly

Step 9:

Once your chrysalis has formed for about two weeks or until it’s been transformed into a butterfly. Slowly pull back the paper towel to ensure that you do not disturb your little guy as he is trying to get his wings out of its casing.

Step 10:

Once he has his wings, you can release him outside. If you do not want to remove him, you can keep him in the jar and put him on display.

You can also check out to Get Rid of Artificial Sweetener Aftertaste

Some Tips and Suggestions

1. A cup of sugar to two cups of water, boiled and cooled thoroughly, should give you about 1/2 gallon (or 2 quarts) of nectar.

2. Do not use honey or any other type of sweetener except for table sugar; it will quickly kill the caterpillars if you do so.

3. The container needs to be changed daily or sometimes even twice to avoid mold growth.

4. A single larva can consume 10 milliliters of food in one day, so if you have lots of larvae, check the amount twice a day and increase the recipe accordingly.

5. This is not the same stuff painted ladies will lay eggs on. It is just a food source. Larvae will eat this and then be weaned onto the real things in captivity.

6. Carrots contain essential oils that repel painted lady caterpillars and many other species of butterflies and moths, so they should only be used as an additive and not eaten entirely by large numbers of larvae.

What Makes the Food Eatable for Larger Caterpillars?

The sugar-water mixture makes being in the dirt more bearable, so they do not try to get out. It also gives them nutrients that are not in the dirt alone. For example, there is a rose chafer beetle that eats rose bushes, and when their larvae overeat the plant they kill, it can weaken the rose bushes so much that not enough energy is produced for the tree to live.

The Sugar-water Mixture  Makes the Dirt More Bearable

Butterfly larvae eat only leaves and damage plants more than beetles do. The artificial food is given to caterpillars includes sugar, water, honeydew (a liquid waste product of insects such as aphids and scales), and a very thin coating of brown dirt.

Since the bigger caterpillars eat more, they need to be fed more, usually given five or six days per week.

What Kind of Plants Do Painted Lady Caterpillars Eat?

Painted Lady caterpillars eat plants in the milkweed family, mainly milkweed and dogbane. You may not have any of those near you, but don’t worry!

All types of butterfly larvae will eat almost any kind of leafy green plant, including cabbage (Brassica oleracea), lettuce (various species), spinach (Spinacia oleracea), cauliflower, mustard greens, radish (Raphanus sativus) and green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris).

Caterpillars will also eat herbaceous plants that are not necessarily leafy greens, such as dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) and clover (Trifolium species). If you are interested to know how to make artificial painted lady caterpillar food then consider reading this full blog post.

How Do You Make Artificial Milkweed?

First, take the floral wire (the kind used for flowers) and cut it into 4-inch pieces. Next, make a loop at one end of the wire and twist the loop shut with needle-nose pliers. It would help if you now had something that looked like small keychain rings.

Make Artificial Milkweed

After you’ve made your “keychain rings,” take a sharpened pencil and stick it through the loop, leaving about an inch of wire below the circle.

Poke the pencil until it pierces all layers of bark. Push down on the bark to make sure you’ve pierced all layers before twisting the end shut again with needle-nose pliers. Finally, hang your homemade milkweed from a branch of a small tree or shrub in your backyard.

If you don’t have a small tree or shrub, use some twist-ties to attach your milkweed to whatever is around. The caterpillars will love it! Make lots and lots because the more there are, the faster they’ll reproduce.

Tips for Butterfly Gardens

1. Butterflies eat a diet rich in sugars that are a high-energy food, so they can fly from flower to flower.

2. When you have a butterfly garden, plant flowers known as butterfly attractor plants. These provide nectar with the correct pH balance for butterflies to feed on.

3. Try planting perennial plants with a long blooming season so butterflies can lay eggs and feed on flowers for a longer period.

4. Plant native plants that attract butterflies native to your area or region.

5. Provide a water source near the butterfly garden, so butterflies have a place to drink and lay eggs.

6. Natural host plants provide an environment where larvae will feed on leaves from those specific plants before they develop into adult butterflies and leave. Therefore, it is important to plant host plants, such as milkweed and butterfly weed, for this butterfly’s life cycle stage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is It Safe to Feed My Pets This Kind of Food?

A: Yes! Painted lady caterpillar food is safer than other artificial food options as it contains no dyes or colorings. Additionally, it is made from pure organic fruits and vegetables, which are safe to eat. However, this food is not for human consumption because of its low nutritional value and potentially harmful pieces such as green pepper seeds or apple stems.

Q: What Kind of Food is It?

A: Painted lady caterpillars eat various organic fruits and vegetables, some of them edible to humans. This food blend includes rose petals, nasturtium leaves, flowers, vetch flowers, flower buds from fennel plants (Foeniculum vulgare), dill, wild strawberry, and red clover, garden cress flowers (Lepidium sativum), violet flower petals, and butterfly weed flowers.

Q: Where Do Painted Ladies (Thistle Butterflies) Come From?

A: In the early spring, painted lady butterflies from Mexico will fly up into the US or sometimes go further north. They love to stick their proboscis in flowers and get a drink of nectar before they continue across the country. After leaving, they lay eggs on milkweed plants with milky white sap stems.

Butterflies Love to Stick With Their Proboscis in Flower

After about 4-7 days, the eggs will hatch, and tiny black caterpillars with white spots will emerge. Soon after that, they will start eating all of the milkweed surrounding them and grow and grow and grow. They shed their skin multiple times as they do so to keep up with their growth!


If you’re looking for a fun and engaging science project, look no further than this one. You can create your own artificial painted lady caterpillar food that is healthy and delicious! Or, if you want to skip the DIY part altogether, we have our homemade sweetened almond butter mixture recipe on sale in-store now.

The larvae get fed until they turn into pupae before emerging as adult butterflies. As with any arts-and-crafts activity involving knives or scissors, make sure kids are supervised by an adult at all times while working on their project.

We hope this article on how to make artificial painted lady caterpillar food has helped you see this delicious food through a different lens, one that opens up endless possibilities for exploration in nature.

Jennifer Branett
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