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photo of butterfly feeding on honey solution

Baird's Swallowtail Rearing Project - Feeding
(Papilio machaon bairdii)

photo of pinned butterfliesIt is advised to "force-feed" gravid female swallowtails in captivity in order to get maximum egg output. I used a cotton ball saturated with a 15% honey solution. I hold the butterfly with wings shut in my fingers and place her head near the cotton. Then I extend the butterfly's probocis with an insect pin until it touches the solution. If she is hungry she will relax enough for me to let loose of her wings and she will feed for awhile without flying away. After she is done (about 10 minutes) I hold her under running tap water for a few seconds to wash the sticky honey off of her feet.

Thank you to Chris Conlan, Marc Schenck, Bill Oehlke, Nigel Venters, and Bill Gendron for their consulting help and encouragement on this project.

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