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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Painted Lady butterfly


Hello. Just curious on an experts reaction to the situation I recently had. Maybe what are the odds for my "Methuselah". For my birthday I received the Live Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore. I live in FL but I am a fall baby and the weather did get cool so I decided to keep them inside for the duration of their life cycle. I fed them the sugar water mixture as described with only once giving them sliced grapes because it was late and I hadn't made a fresh batch and that's what I was having.

The following is a copy and paste from my review of the kit, but tells my story.

"My 5 Caterpillars arrived on Oct 30, 2012.

I named them A, E, I, O, and U ("U" was a runt!). As the weather had turned colder I knew these would be inside-butterflies.

Within a week, all 5 turned into their chrysalis-selves. Pretty!

The hatching from each chrysalis began on Nov 12, 2012 when "A" and "E" hatched. On Nov 14th "I" and "O" hatched. And finally on Nov 16th the last one hatched, the only one who I "KNOW" was the same name going into his chrysalis and coming out of it: "U".

Well, I watched them hatch and even later on Nov 25 they were mating! No eggs appeared (I was afraid of that, I was not prepared for any new cycles).

They are supposed to live as butterflies for 2-4 weeks. Time passed and on Dec 22 three butterflies died, and the next day one more died. That's four dead by week 5; I expected the last one to go soon after.

True these are inside-butterflies, but a life-span is a life-span. It is 01-06-13 today and I still have one living! That's like 7 weeks so far! Although we think this one is either "I" or "O", we've changed the name to Methuselah!! The experience has been great.

I reckon having a Methuselah is not a common occurrence. Even so, I might do it again one year.

Edit: Methuselah died Jan 12, 2012 He lived 1 month and 29 days if he was "I" or "O" originally. WOW!"

NOTE: Technically I omitted the following from my review...
Jan 10: noticed Methuselah going through death throw twitching in the evening (something not witnessed in the other butterflies, just woke up to them being dead)

Jan 11: checked before and after work - still "death throws"

Jan 12: could stand "nature taking its course" no more. Placed his still twitchy body in a container and let him "go to sleep" in the freezer.  I could bring myself to kill him any other way, we figured this was best. It had to be better than 2-3 days of twitching around.

Jan 13: I buried the 5 butterfly carcasses in the garden.  At this point they were like pets.

So... living twice as long as expected -- how often does this happen in captivity? Any other reactions?


Thank you for sharing your story.  First and foremost, let me emphasize that your story occurs in captivity.  In captivity, temperature conditions are perfect, there are no predators, diseases or parasites and food supplies are ample and available all of the time.

It is well-documented that many things live longer in captivity:  housecats can live up to and past 20 years of age while alley cats struggle to reach age 10...animals in zoos have been known to live for at least 1/3 of their lifespan longer as well.

Your butterflies were the recipients of some great care and you were rewarded with a longer time to observe them.

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Nathan Riggs


I currently live in San Antonio, TX and have expertise in identifying insects, many types of spiders, and other arthropod critters that infest lawns, ornamentals, structures, trees, pets and livestock. Mites are not a strong point of mine. I'm not a licensed doctor, so I cannot provide medical diagnosis of conditions possibly related to insects or other arthropods. If you've got an interesting photo for me to see, attach it to your question, or let me know and I'll give you my email so the picture will get to me. If you have hosted an insect photo on a website, please include the link so I can go look at it and provide a faster ID for you. You may also join my group page on Facebook and post your picture at


22+ years' experience as an entomologist: 5 years as a biologist with Merck Animal Health (I was part of the R&D team that worked to develop FrontLine flea and tick products) and 7 years as an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist in San Antonio, Texas with Texas Cooperative Extension.

Veterinary Parasitology, Southwestern Entomologist, San Antonio Express News, San Antonio Gardener Newsletter, Master Gardener SCION Newsletter, GardenStyleSA e-Newsletter

BS - Entomology from Texas A&M University in 1992.

Board Certified Entomologist, 1996-2000 - Medical and Veterinary Entomology Specialty (Entomological Society of America)

Awards and Honors
2000 Texas A&M University Vice Chancellor's Award in Excellence for leadership on the Texas Fire Ant Program Educational Team.

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