Giant Swallowtail Butterflies and Your Citrus Trees: I love Giant Swallowtails they are gorgeous butterflies.

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Giant Swallowtail Butterflies and Your Citrus Trees

By wildflowers
June 19, 2012

It started out as a usual morning as I hand watered the front garden; then I noticed what looked like bird droppings all over one of the lime trees.

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Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
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frostweed
Jun 19, 2012 5:57 AM CST
The giant swallowtails have been rather scarce around here this year but I keep hoping, we have their larval hosts waiting for them.
Good work on the article Christine. Hurray!
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 19, 2012 7:05 AM CST
Hello Josephine,

Long time, no see!

For whatever reason, this year we've had a huge amount of butterflies, of all kinds!

The Giant swallowtails definitely stand out, they are so big and beautiful. Lately, I've seen several of them laying their eggs on the citrus, none of them have hatched yet but I'm watching. LOL
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Jun 19, 2012 7:55 AM CST
Makes me want to go check my Ptelea for eggs Thumbs up
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
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Skiekitty
Jun 19, 2012 9:09 AM CST
A long time ago when I was a teenager, my mom decided (why, oh why oh why!) to plant dill. So she planted dill. Right next to our bedrooms. My sister's, mine, & the master bedrooms all smelled like pickles for 3 years (the dill went wild & we couldn't ever get it under control). However, it also attracted tons & tons & TONS of swallowtail butterflies! I captured (if that's the right word) like 4 caterpillars & put them in (imagine that) a 1gal pickle jar with tons of dill for them to eat. Covered the top w/a nylon stocking & kept it in the garage away from the heat so that they were well protected. Had to replace the dill every day 'cuz they were devouring it faster than anything! Finally, I put in 6 sturdy sticks in the jar & they crystallized into their cocoons. About a week later, I had 4 gorgeous swallowtail butterflies emerging! I opened up the jar & GENTLY pulled out the sticks so they had lots of wing room to dry off. Those silly butterflies followed me everywhere that day, trying to get into the house whenever I went in! I guess I smelled like their pheromones or something. I ended up leading them like a mother goose w/goslings over to the area where all the dill had grown & they fluttered off that area. There had to have been 50 butterflies in that small patch (about 20x20)! It was awesome. Every year thereafter there was tons of them because of the dill. Small smelly price to pay for such beauty.

I get these types of swallowtails here:

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Name: Renée
Northern KY
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KyWoods
Jun 19, 2012 9:38 AM CST
It's amazing how something that looks like bird poop can turn into such a beautiful creature! I enjoyed the article and pictures, Christine, thanks.
And Toni, what a fun story--that must have been thrilling!
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 19, 2012 9:43 AM CST
I love the great photos, and how wonderful to know the much loved butterfly caterpillars really don't harm our gardens. Hurray!
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 19, 2012 11:22 AM CST
Thanks everyone. It was fun watching them! I saw one out the window, just today, fluttering on a citrus tree. I must say, I was happily surprised at how the trees seemed unharmed, aside from some leaves eaten, by the caterpillars. I've seen a single grasshopper or Katydid (They eat everything!!!) do more damage to the citrus trees!!

Toni, that is a great story! I think that's a Tiger swallowtail in the pics. I grow a little bit of dill and it always seems to have a couple of caterpillars on it.. at first my dh would think I was leaving some worm on the dill and he would be upset because he LOVES fresh dill... but now he has accepted that he has to share!!! Hilarious!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11+
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coconut
Jun 19, 2012 11:39 AM CST
Wow, they're also called Citrus Swallowtail. Get an eye-full here:

http://www.google.co.vi/search?q=citrus+swallowtail&hl=en&pr...

Sad to say, there's another swallowtail that's a swift flyer, and that's a real bad guy for citrus. A smaller butterfly, and pale cream colored with black stripes and markings. On its' way to Florida from South America. I've seen a few here. Tho' I don't have a photo.
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 19, 2012 11:43 AM CST
Lovely, informative story Christine. And you too Toni. I adore the flutter bys! Lovey dubby Lovey dubby
The giant swallowtails remind me of kites, they are so huge.
We have a lot of tigers & even more pipevine swallowtails on our property. Can't wait to plant both some citrus as well as dill. BTW, I happen to like the aroma of the dill wafting around. Shrug!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
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Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Jun 19, 2012 12:36 PM CST
Haven't seen them this year or last, but hopefully they will be back soon. I have Hop Trees, a species of toothache tree and Rue, all host plants for the caterpillars of the Giant Swallowtail. I'm just waiting for the butterfly to come back now that the drought is over (hopefully!).
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Jun 19, 2012 1:05 PM CST
Me too Linda, we have seen very few around here, we do have a lot of Pipevine swallowtails, they are also very pretty, but oh so restless. Smiling
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
Charter ATP Member Irises Salvias Xeriscape Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Colorado Enjoys or suffers cold winters Cat Lover
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Skiekitty
Jun 19, 2012 1:10 PM CST
OMG, those pipevine swallowtails are GORGEOUS!! WOW! I wish I could see one IRL live....
Roses are one of my passions! Just opened, my Etsy shop (to fund my rose hobby)! http://www.etsy.com/shop/TweetsnTreats
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 19, 2012 1:57 PM CST
Thanks Mellissa and Ann! And the caterpillars are also called "Orange dogs."

I hope they show up for you, Linda, and Josephine! There's still time! Is it the Hercules Club/toothache tree (Zanthoxylum clava- herculis) that you have? I forgot that one in my list...

The pipevines ARE another pretty swallowtail! But, they are all beautiful! Smiling
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Jun 19, 2012 2:54 PM CST
Chrisitne, it's Zanthoxylum hirsutum, a smaller size toothache tree that can tolerate the poor soils and drier climate of the Hill Country.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
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wren
Jun 19, 2012 3:58 PM CST
I just bought a small Hop tree and it came with 5 Giant Swallowtail cats on it. As the tree is tiny I have set it for now next to my Wild Lime bush
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 19, 2012 4:26 PM CST
Allright Wren!

Do the giant swallowtails like the Hercules Club? We have several of those on our property. But I haven't seen them bloom yet. When do (the kind you have) they bloom for you Linda & for you Christine?
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
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fiwit
Jun 19, 2012 4:54 PM CST
fiwit said:Makes me want to go check my Ptelea for eggs Thumbs up



No eggs Sad
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
Critters Allowed Dog Lover Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
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wildflowers
Jun 19, 2012 6:45 PM CST
That is so neat, Wren!! Smiling

But not happy news from Fiwit! Sad

Ann, so funny that you asked that because I was wondering the same about mine, I've never seen it bloom yet, maybe it's too young? It's about five years old... I need to check into that!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
Image
frostweed
Jun 19, 2012 7:27 PM CST
I have seen toothache trees bloom while quite small, I guess it depends on many different factors. The flowers are very inconspicuous so they can be easily missed. Smiling
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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LindaTX8
Jun 19, 2012 8:08 PM CST
Mine is not planted in a very good spot...it's out on the property. It hasn't grown much and hasn't bloomed. I've seen other bigger ones bloom in the wild.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
[Last edited by LindaTX8 - Jun 19, 2012 8:09 PM (+)]
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