Butterfly Farming Articles
The Butterfly Boutique  

Collecting Eggs

by Melanie McCarthy

With my egg collecting I prefer to take the entire egg off the leaf rather than leaving it on.

I collect the eggs daily and put in the fridge until I feel I need them (up to 9 days in an airtight container).

I still have Jacob's solution which I use and I realize many others use about 10% bleach solution. I don't know what the timing would be for 10% bleach solution.

With my eggs, I place all of them in a copper type coffee filter which is shaped like a cone.

I have 4 bowls. One filled with the washing solution and the other 3 are filled with water.

After placing the eggs in the cone filter, I put the cone into the solution. The most important part is next. I use a turkey baster to "spurt" the water through the eggs which causes agitation. It is this agitation which causes the spores to slip off the eggs. With the solution, the time I used was 7 minutes. Then I do the same for 3 rinses about 3 minutes each.

Then when I am all done with that batch, I swirl the cone as I take it out of the water. This causes all the eggs to disperse all around the cone - so they don't stick to each other. After about an hour, you can tap it and all the eggs will fall into a container.

I never put them on leaves, I just let them hatch, after they are hatched, I may insert a leaf into the container or if there are many larvae, I'll split them up. You can tap on the container to get the larvae out and they will gently fall into another container. The reason I don't leave any leaves with the eggs is that they tend to get moldy and/or dry up. I don't want the larvae to eat that leaf anyway.

For pupae emerging. I usually do this if I have seen ANY spores in my operation. Chip Taylor once told me that if you see a small # of spores - like 12 or so - on a butterfly, it means they are post emergent spores. So, this means the butterfly had the spores sprinkled on to it after emergence, probably from others in the same box or cage.

So to be absolutely sure this does not happen to my breeders (pupae), I will take the ones I want to use - one at a time - for breeding and hang them from a papertowel over one plastic shoebox. Then when that butterfly emerges it cannot be contaminated by others. I am not home during the day, so this is even more important.

I especially do this at the beginning of the season when having a disease take hold can be so critically damaging. Or, if I have brought in other pupae from other breeders, this is the method I use also. No one can be sure of a disease free pupa until it is tested as a butterfly.

As I continue on through the summer, I may slow down on this process, once I am sure I have no spores in my operation.


All material on this website is © The Butterfly Boutique unless stated otherwise.