Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Build your Own Butterfly Conservatory


finished butterfly conservatory

I’ve been raising butterflies for 5 years ever since I was 15 years old. I wrote my first book about butterflies after gathering research from all my experiences and stories. We call ourselves butterfly enthusiasts. You’ll know us we you see us. The people who wear everything from shirts with butterflies on them to butterfly purses and matching butterfly earrings. We are fearless and will climb through a poison ivy patch if it means finding a hard to find butterfly host plant.  We will tramp through roadside ditches if it means finding Milkweed for our Monarch babies. We will stop at nothing to insure the safety of our precious butterflies so beware. Alright, I’m exaggerating here, but I can assure you that butterfly lovers are among the coolest people I’ve ever met and are among the generous of people. There have been many people who have helped me along on my butterfly journey and below are pictures of my butterfly conservatory during the construction phase as well as pictures of my butterfly caterpillars.


The butterfly conservatory was created by recycling a patio pergola that was donated to us. Watching the transformation process has been great. My mom has put in countless hours to make it an exquisite one of a kind butterfly conservatory. The first step was painting the individual panels which took 10 cans of Rustoleum spray paint. Next, the conservatory was mounted on a 2’ x 4’ wood base with 8 inch anchors to secure it. To make the conservatory mosquito and wasp proof, we ordered 86 inch  by 100 feet of fiber glass pool screen. It was secured to the wood frame by using an air gun and then my mom hand sewed the walls by using 450 yards of outdoor thread and then sewing up the roof made up of 2 panels. The totals for the materials was around $200 and the frame was donated.


Rolling out the fiberglass pool screen for the butterfly conservatory.


In about two weeks time my babies turned into teenage caterpillars and will emerge as beautiful butterfly adults. There is a beauty and mystery in the butterfly life cycle. How a wormlike creature can grow into a winged insect. They will never lose their mystery. They are a reminder of the great Creator God who is too great to comprehend. And so I have faith and just have to trust God and realize I can’t possibly understand everything. I don’t need to know how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly in order to enjoy the beauty of it. And so it is with God. I don’t need to understand everything that happens in this world, but still I trust that God works all things for good.


I ended up getting thirteen chrysalises.


This is my first Monarch chrysalis in 1 1/2 years because of two moves and a lot of hard work to get our farm established. A good friend asked me what I’m going to name it and I decided on Hope because it has given me hope that I can with the help of others save the Monarchs. Some of my neighbors are jumping on board to help! I believe with all my heart that I can help save the butterflies and I will never give up hope. I believed this from the very beginning and still do to this day.

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I raise my caterpillars in containers and once they make chrysalises I move them into another butterfly habitat to prevent curious caterpillar from damaging new chrysalises. I get mine from Judi Sunshine owner of It is easy for chrysalises to get damaged if they have not hardened yet. For this reason I find it best to separate the different stages. I also separate some of the different caterpillar instars and eggs from caterpillars to avoid the large caterpillars from accidentally eating them. Another tip is to put Milkweed in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator if it is getting ready to rain or you want to save yourself from a trip to the garden. A great time saver. Here is a picture of my butterfly habitat inside my butterfly conservatory.


Milkweed = Monarch. Without it there are none so please start planting them today.  Get free Milkweed seeds and more here.


  1. This is all so wonderful, Elizabeth! I've popped over from the Butterfly Enthusiast group on Facebook, and I'm glad I did. You are such a inspiration to other young people to do what good you can in our world. We love raising Monarchs and other butterflies as well, and hope to have a butterfly farm in the near future. Love, Marqueta

    1. I get excited whenever I hear that someone has been touched by reading my blog! If you have any questions feel welcome to contact me.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences. One of my dreams had been to put up a butterfly conservatory, and now that I'm getting old(er), the time is now or never. Thank you for your inspiration and your advice!

    1. Your welcome! If there is any way I can help, please let me know.