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Questions & Answers

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Butterfly Releases
Why it's okay to release butterflies.
How long can they stay in there?
Tell me more about how you do a butterfly release?
  What is the normal number of butterflies to release?
Can I release them any time of the year?
Can you ship all the butterflies pictured on your website?
  Are they available all year?
  How far in advance should I place my order?
  How do you ship them?




Question Answer

How do I create a butterfly habitat?

A butterfly habitat requires plants from three basic groups. The first is 'Host Plants', the second is 'Nectar Plants'.

The third small group of plants are 'minerals'. They provide the resources for reproduction and are very important.

The habitat works best with both sunny and shady areas, as butterflies love sunshine and also like to rest in the shade, just as we do.

Almost always, a butterfly habitat easily fits into existing landscape.

Choose only host plants for butterflies that are local to your area. Planting a host plant for butterflies found in Miami , for example, will not attract them to Tampa.

Each butterfly species lays eggs on a limited group of host plants, which the caterpillars feed on. For example, a butterfly that lays eggs on passion vine will never lay eggs on anything else. If the correct host plant for laying eggs is not available, butterflies will nectar (eat from their nectaring plant) and die without ever having laid eggs. This is the reason responsible butterfly breeders never ship butterflies to areas without naturally occurring host plants.

Butterflies have favorite nectar plants. Small butterflies require flowers that are simple and open flat. Larger butterflies have longer mouth parts and can nectar from flowers having tubular shapes.

Hummingbirds love many of the same nectar plants as do butterflies. Hummingbirds will also be attracted to your butterfly garden, if they are naturally found in your area.

How do I get butterflies to come to my garden?

"Plant 'em, and they will come," has been my experience!

My first garden was mostly nectar plants along the edge of a wooded area. It attracted many species that were naturally occurring. By adding the host plant, I now experience the entire life cycle of egg laying, caterpillar growing, chrysalis forming and butterfly hatching.

How long are they eggs?
The average time is 10 days and varies with species and weather. In cooler temperatures, eggs will last a bit longer; in the summer, a bit shorter
What happened to the eggs?

They tasted good!

The egg case provides the young caterpillar its first nutritious meal.

How long are they caterpillars?
Ten days, generally. A bit less during the hot summer, and a bit more in the fall.
How long are they chrysalises?

Ten days, generally. A bit less during the hot summer, and a bit more in the fall.

Some species, such as the Giant Swallowtail, will take up to three weeks, and many butterflies over winter in this stage.

In some cases, I have completely given up on a chrysalis, only to find it hatch two weeks to many months later.

Never give up on a chrysalis unless you can tell it has dried up or been ingested by a predator.

How long are they butterflies?
Ten days, generally. A bit less during the hot summer, and a bit more in the fall.
What will harm my butterflies?
Predators of butterflies (including the egg and caterpillar stages) include:
  • ants
  • lizards
  • wasps
  • frogs
  • birds
  • other predators of similar nature.
Am I helping or hurting butterflies by raising caterpillars?

Helping,if you use proper rearing, raising and sterilizing techniques.

Consider that about one in every 100 eggs will mature to butterfly. For the avid butterfly enthusiast, rearing is most beneficial in order to have lots of butterflies in the garden.

However rearing without proper cleansing of equipment will spread disease and the pathogens that effect all stages of the life cycle. All equipment should be sterilized with a 20% bleach solution between every batch of caterpillars raised.

As professional breeders, we disinfect every few days.

Why are my butterflies not shaped right?

This can be due to a disease, or a pathogen or even insufficient moisture in the air.

Indoor rearing requires a daily misting to keep the chrysalis from drying out.

How can I decorate with butterflies?

Live butterflies can be used to make a special occasion an extraordinary occasion.

We would love to create your next centerpiece with a floral arrangement of butterfly flowers AND live butterflies.

Large displays with live butterflies in an entryway or focal area make a special decorative splash. Each display can then deliver an extra bonus if you incorporate a release of butterflies into the event or present the display to your featured guest to take home to release the next day.

Please note to schedule your release during the warm part of the day.


What are these worms on my plants?

Not worms, but caterpillars.

Caterpillars eat and eat and eat until they are ready to transform into a chrysalis. The chrysalis transforms into the butterfly.

Do you have the plants in stock that my caterpillars are eating?
We carry a large selection of host plants for caterpillars found in Central Florida and throughout the state.
How often should I fertilize my plants?

Fertilize in the spring after the danger of frost.

Continue to fertilize according to labeled directions until the onset of fall.

Remember that all fertilizer labels are based on an average temperature of 70 degrees. Our hot Florida summers will reduce the time span over which fertilizer lasts by as much as 30%.

How often should I prune my plants?

This is a personal preference on many plants, but a rule to go by is to prune after the new growth is fully expanded and flushed out, in order to create fullness and more branching.

But, I'm going to break this rule in the next question.

What technique should I use to prune my plants?

For the gardener who is always out in the garden, your finger tips work best. Just pinch new leaves or buds as they come out in order to create two branches where there was only one. The tender growth pinches easily.

Or, for the time-crunched gardener like myself, shears work well and plants quickly re-grow!

When should I prune my plants?

In the spring, perform a general cleaning of dead wood, and cut back to shape the plants for new growth.

Periodically prune during the growing season to produce full plants.

What are these holes in my plants?
Caterpillars, which are just getting started on their feasting.
Do you have full-sun plants?
Yes, most of the plants require full to part sun.
Do you have full-shade plants?
Yes, there are plants which thrive in the shade.
Do you have sun and shade plants?
We are finding from experience that many of the plants are doing well in either sun or shade.
How large will my plants grow?

Here is a basic guide:

  • ground cover - 6" to 18"
  • small shrub - 1' to 3'
  • shrub - 3' to 4'
  • large shrub - 5' to 8'
  • small tree - 15' to 30'
  • large tree - over 30'

Why do you use glassine envelopes instead of triangular boxes? After in depth research, we choose to package our butterflies in customized glassine envelopes so that the butterflies are not harmed while being handled. Since you can see the butterfly through the envelope you know where to hold it. The butterfly cannot be seen through a triangular paper box and it is easy to accidentally hurt the butterfly while handling it. People don’t know that they have just been handed a live butterfly, they might think it’s a candy favor and forget about it.
Can the butterflies breathe in there? Yes, they have plenty of air and survive just fine. The envelopes are not sealed.
How long can they stay in there? We feed and exercise our butterflies just prior to shipping. Most of our butterflies have just been born and are shipped on their first day of life when they do not eat. We think that butterflies should be released soon after receiving them. Once we know their destination we determine the best method of overnight shipment so that the butterflies will all arrive healthy and happy.
Tell me more about how you do a butterfly release?

There is no “right” way or “wrong” way to do it. . Here is what other brides have done.

The ultimate butterfly release is to give each guest the pleasure of releasing a butterfly by having individual butterflies given to the guests just before the release.

You do not want to pass them out before the ceremony starts or they will steal the show. Make it a special part of the ceremony by reading the Indian Legend and having each guest make wishes for you as you start your new lives together.

Some brides have chosen to have the bridal party along with the parents join with the bride and groom in the release, with each person having their own butterfly to release.

Butterflies have also been released by the bride or groom in memory of a special loved one.

Many brides and grooms choose to release a mass of butterflies from one of our darling release cages, just after being introduced as husband and wife.
What is the normal number of butterflies to release? Any number that you would like to release. The ultimate is to give each guest the pleasure of releasing a butterfly. But you might choose to release only a few . Whatever number, the butterflies are guaranteed to create a beautiful lasting memory.
Are the butterflies OK? Yes, we think of their well being at all times. That’s why we use individual glassine envelopes and only ship them overnight.
Can I release them any time of the year? No. The butterflies need to have the temperatures consistently be 65 degrees or warmer so that they can fly.
Can I release them indoors? No. Butterflies need to be released outdoors, preferably in a flower garden so that they have an immediate source of nectar. Quite often people plan their weddings in community gardens and parks that have an existing butterfly garden. Or, if you are local, we can help you create an instant garden with our beautiful potted nectar plants. The butterflies will linger longer allowing your guest to be entertained and creating the perfect photo opportunities.
Can you ship all the butterflies pictured on your website? Yes, however only certain species to each state. We can ship all the ones pictured (and more) to our Florida customers offering them the biggest selection of our huge Swallowtails and various species that we do not ship out of state.
Are they available all year? Yes, we are busy raising butterflies all year.
How far in advance should I place my order? As far in advance as possible to assure availability. It takes 6 weeks to create a butterfly from an egg. But give us a call even if you just discovered the beauty and magic of butterflies and your wedding is tomorrow. We try to always have extras on hand. Call 941-807-2416 to place all last minute orders.
How do you ship the butterflies? Our butterflies are shipped in glassine envelopes, inside a thermal box with an ice pack, creating just the right temperature for the butterflies to travel. This is packed in an outer corrugated shipping box. You only need to add a fresh ice pack or baggie of ice when they arrive to keep the temperature controlled. Butterflies are cold blooded insects. That means that the cooler they are the calmer they are. However, you never want to put your butterflies in the refrigerator. It can be too cold resulting in death in minutes.

How do I raise caterpillars?

Caterpillars must feed on fresh host plant daily. They must not be older growth or dry.

Once a caterpillar begins eating on a plant, it must remain eating the same plant since the caterpillar's digestive system is too simple to change diets. For example, once started on Amethyst Passion Vine, the caterpillar will not change to Corky Stem Passion Vine.

What's eating my caterpillars?
Frogs, lizards, birds, wasps. Many predators love a tasty caterpillar snack!
Why don't I see any caterpillars?
They are quite adapt at hiding from predators. Usually you can find caterpillars on the underside of leaves.
Why are my chrysalises NOT hatching?
It is a normal part of the life cycle for a chrysalis to not hatch. It can vary from pathogen to disease to poor diet and humidity. Or they need more time. Contact us if you believe reasonable time has expired.

How many butterflies do I need to release at a wedding?
  • Two or more. Some couples choose to release two at the time they are pronounced wed.
  • Other options are to give a butterfly to each member of the wedding party to release on signal.
  • Have one large cage and open it to release at your chosen time.
  • Have the flower girl release butterflies from one of our purse cages.
  • Use a centerpiece of flowers and butterflies and release when signaled.
  • We can create the perfect grouping to fit into any wedding theme.
How do I release them?
This varies from an individual envelope to a purse-size item to a larger cage. It depends on the effect and mood you are trying to establish. Contact us for additional guidance and recommendations. Click here for more information.
When do I release them?

The basic rule is: outdoors during the warm part of the day.

Choose what works best for you: When you are pronounced wed, when you exit the building, when you walk the isle, when you toast, when you kiss, when you have the first dance, whenever you like!


How large should a butterfly garden be?

How much work in the garden do you enjoy?

An area specifically devoted to butterflies should be 10 ft. x 20 ft. or so.

Some prefer to incorporate a butterfly area all over a yard, which creates the habitat within view from where one usually sits indoors or easily glancing out of windows.

If you have a patio, then create the butterfly garden where you will see it from your favorite chair.

Where should I locate my garden?
Follow the above suggestions, and pick a location which receives some full sun, if possible.
How many plants do I need?

You need to start with at least one host plant and several nectar plants.

If you are like most of us, this is just the beginning of a wonderful, colorful garden. Most butterfly aficionados are like kids in a candy shop — the more there is, the sweeter it is!

What books do you have about butterflies and gardens?
Our favorite book is Florida Butterfly Gardening by Marc and Maria Minno. Available on site or in our gift shop for $34.95

Flutterby Gardens
When are your Butterfly Gardening Classes?
Classes are scheduled according to customer reservations. If you would like to bring a group for a class, please email or phone us at 941-708-3912.
What are your services?
Garden design, installation, maintenance, plant sales, garden center with butterfly gift shop, live butterflies for release
We do butterfly garden design.
Design services are available at the rate of $60 per hour to produce a plan by which you may put out for bid to contractors.
We do butterfly garden installation.
We will install your garden for you. Our installation includes soil amendments of manure, humus and peat. All beds are mulched. We can also lay bricks or install water features. Prices are individually quoted.
We do butterfly garden maintenance.
Many of us are just unable to do the work, so let our crew do the work for you. Each job is individually priced. Services include and are not limited to pruning, freshening mulch, removing plant, adding plants, weeding, fertilizing.


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International Butterfly Breeders Association
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Bradenton, FL 34205

Flutterby Gardens - Tampa Bay Florida
Web www.FlutterbyGardens.com

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