Growing Tiger Swallowtail butterflies

For the first time, I have several large and fat Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars. I think I’ll be able to raise them into butterflies, but I’m thinking of next year.I s there any place that sells Tiger Swallowtail eggs or pupae? (I live in San Diego)

Welcome to the forum!

I discourage captive rearing if your plan is to rear caterpillars for release upon adulthood. I especially discourage mail ordering butterflies at any life stage for release into the wild. This can facilitate the spread of disease and gene muddying of your local genotypes.

Little research has been conducted on other butterflies, but several studies have looked at the effects of captive rearing on Monarchs (a species that receives a lot of PR and funding). At best, this seems to have no effect on boosting monarch populations, and at worst, can be detrimental.

Instead, I would focus my time and effort on providing native host and nectar plants to bring the tiger swallowtails into your yard where you can observe them (which maybe you have already done!). This has the added benefit of helping other native fauna.

If you do decide to captive rear, adapt the Xerces Society’s guidelines for monarchs to your species of interest:

How can I rear monarchs responsibly?

  1. Rear no more than ten monarchs per year (whether by a single individual or family). This is the same number recommended in the original petition to list the monarch under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
  2. Collect immature monarchs locally from the wild, heeding collection policies on public lands; never buy or ship monarchs.
  3. Raise monarchs individually and keep rearing containers clean between individuals by using a 20% bleach solution to avoid spreading diseases or mold.
  4. Provide sufficient milkweed including adding fresh milkweed daily.
  5. Keep rearing containers out of direct sunlight and provide a moist (not wet) paper towel or sponge to provide sufficient, not excessive, moisture.
  6. Release monarchs where they were collected and at appropriate times of year for your area.
  7. Check out Monarch Joint Venture’s newly updated handout, Rearing Monarchs: Why or Why Not?
  8. Participate in community science, including testing the monarchs you raise for OE, tracking parasitism rates, and/or tagging adults before release.

Note: not all of these are applicable. Obviously, give your species its host plant, not milkweed, and I doubt there are testing programs for disease/parasite monitoring for other species.


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