If you would like to observe the life cycle of a butterfly, from caterpillar to adult butterfly, you will need to provide food for the caterpillars in your butterfly habitat. There are a few simple ways to provide food for your caterpillars.
Identify the species of caterpillars you have. Use a butterfly guidebook or an online identification website with images.
Determine the specific food needs of your caterpillars. A caterpillar will starve to death before it will eat the wrong food, so it is important to be certain of the correct food.
Choose live host plants. The ideal way to feed caterpillars is with live, fresh host plants. These can be bought locally or ordered through online resources.
Choose and plant host-plant seeds. Seeds for host plants can be bought at many local gardening and home improvement stores or through online retailers. Seeds can also be collected from wild-growing plants (make sure you have permission to collect them).
Buy artificial food for caterpillars. Artificial food, called larvae refill, can be purchased for caterpillars, but it is generally bought with live caterpillars. Larvae refill comes in an amount that will feed a specific number of caterpillars until they are ready to become butterflies.
Use online resources to learn more about your caterpillars and the butterflies they will become.
Do not feed your caterpillars host plants that have been treated with pesticides--even organic pesticides will kill caterpillars.