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Do butterflies use a nest?

Butterflies do not have a nest in the sense that birds have a nest, where the parents sit on the eggs until they hatch and then take care of the babies. Butterfly mothers carefully choose a plant for their caterpillars to eat, but they do not stick around to take care of their offspring.

However, some caterpillars do live in a sort of nest. It is a tent that they make themselves, by tying leaves together with silk, which they produce from glands in their mouth. It takes many caterpillars working together to build the nest, so this behaviour is only seen in some butterfly species where the mother lays large batches of eggs on a single plant. The tent protects the caterpillars from predators. In Ottawa, Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars make a tent on their food plant, white turtlehead. (The picture was taken along a trail in the Greenbelt.) – Dr. Naomi Cappuccino