Salt Creek Butterfly Farm
Attracting Butterflies (scroll down for Giant Silk Moth details)
Adult butterflies will sip nectar from many flower sources. So it's wonderful to have many flowering plants in your garden. But if you want to be able to find eggs or caterpillars you will need specific plants. Adding the host plants to your garden (plants the caterpillars will eat) transforms your Butterfly Garden into a Butterfly Habitat. A Habitat will support a butterfly through all stages of its development.
A list of many butterfly species and their host plants (food source) can be found by clicking here: Monarch Watch for native, non-invasive host plant list and the butterfly species it supports.
At Salt Creek Butterfly Farm we raise all of the following butterflies whenever we can locate the eggs or caterpillars. We find them by looking on the leaves of the plants listed below each caterpillar. See the "Raise" page to find out how to set up a safe container to raise your caterpillars in.
Photo 1: Purchased Luna cocoon
Photo 2: Emerged Luna adults
Photo 3: My hand reared female inside wire container has "called" (emitted a pheremone indicating interest in mating) a wild, local male appeared and they mated through the container wall.
Photo 4: My hand reared female lays eggs the next day that had been fertilized by a wild male
Photo 5: New voraciously eating caterpillars
Photo 6: Healthy, happy, growing caterpillars
Attracting Giant Silk Moths
Giant Silk Moths have become my absolute favorite things to raise. Why? The caterpillar phase is lengthy and their growth is phenomenal. They are voracious eaters. A healthy caterpillar is firm, has a tremendous grip and its substantial size makes it easy to observe and appreciate.
The adults are present in decent numbers, but we never see them since moths fly at night. It is a marvel that something so beautiful, so close by, goes unseen.
Since the life of a Giant Silk Moth occurs mostly in high treetops, my method for obtaining and raising them is different than for butterflies. It is unlikely you will net a moth unless you set up a night vapor light and white screen - a very viable option, but not practical for my home.
I personally started my stock with cocoons I ordered from a reputable Silk Moth farmer online. USDA guidelines are such that although you can purchase from out of state and raise four species in Illinois (Luna, Cecropia, Polyphemus and Promethea) you can never let out of state Moths fly free. They cannot be released, and must live out the remainder of their life in captivity. I purchased the cocoons, and when I had a female moth eclose, I allowed her to mate with a wild, local male moth. The eggs she laid, became caterpillars which I hand raised. This second generation, who had local parentage could be released. That is how I developed my initial stock.
If you live in Illinois and would like to raise Giant Silk Moths, please contact me for eggs, caterpillars or cocoons. If you live outside of Illinois and would like to try this, let me know and I will share my colleague's contact information with you.