I was going through some old pictures of mine online and came across photos I had taken about 5 years ago when I was raising a ton of Painted Ladies.
I had ordered 2 kits of caterpillars (I will post a link below if you wish to raise your own).
They come in a container like this. At the bottom is their food. They stay in this cup till they go into a chrysalis. Many people confuse it with a cocoon. Butterflies do not go into a cocoon, moths do. You can tell the difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis because a cocoon is usually made with dried leaves and/or webbing the caterpillar makes before it goes into its pupa (which basically looks like a chrysalis, just called a pupa) and is hidden inside that protective soft cocoon outer coating.
After the first generation hatched. I allowed them to mate, lay eggs on romaine lettuce leaves in a box I had made for them. Painted Lady caterpillars eat several plant species, but romaine lettuce is the easiest to feed them since you can get it at the store. In this case organic is usually best, but I have fed them non organic and they survived just fine. If you can help it, you really do not want to introduce pesticide to them.
So the pictures start on the second and third generation I raised. All were released into the wild. Painted Ladies lay hundreds of eggs. In the wild of course only a few survive, but with my care and protection I was able to have greater success.
This is one of the caterpillars. I was trying an experimental diet with him, that is why he was alone in the cup. It survived, but the experiment was a hassle and did not produce the easy outcome I would had hoped for.
This is many caterpillars feeding on their romaine lettuce.
This is a picture of all the chrysalises I ended up with in the third generation and last. Two reasons for it being the last generation I raised. Summer was ending and I needed them to have time to be free and prepare for the cold weather that was coming. Also, I had no idea if the first generation I started with were related in anyway. If you keep breeding with siblings you will end up with inbreeding issues, resulting in infertile eggs, early death and/or deformities.
This is a picture of one of the Painted Ladies. I actually think this is one from the first generation that came in the cup from the company.
This is a picture of a group of them. I would move them to this netted cage before I released them. I believe these are butterflies from the second generation. I think in total I released about 500 Painted Ladies that summer, maybe a little bit more.
O.K., so if you ever want to try your hand at raising Painted Ladies you can get them a few places online, one of those places being here: Insect Lore 5 Live Caterpillars-Butterfly Kit Habitat