Giant Swallowtail Butterflies and Your Citrus Trees: They were at it again this year

Views: 443, Replies: 3 » Jump to the end
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.

[View the item] Give a thumbs up

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
Image
wildflowers
Jun 3, 2013 7:50 AM CST
Laying their eggs, then the caterpillars (looking like little bird poops) on the leaves and stems of the citrus trees. A couple of them made their way to the house again, where they transformed into chrysalis.

Thumb of 2013-06-03/wildflowers/636b4d Thumb of 2013-06-03/wildflowers/810cae

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Beverly
Colima, Mexico (Zone 11a)
Butterflies Organic Gardener Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter
Image
vitrsna
Feb 16, 2015 1:06 PM CST
Hurray! Hi Christine...I appreciated your article about the Giant Swallowtails and especially that you noted they did not harm the citrus trees. Hopefully that will bring some awareness to people who commonly use insecticides to eliminate the larva.

These butterflies are also common visitors to my garden. When i had both a Lime tree and a Rue plant, i noticed that the Swallowtails showed a preference to lay eggs on the Rue and only used the Lime tree when there was no more space on the Rue. I no longer have the Lime tree but i increased the plants of Rue. The Swallowtails became heavily predated when the wasps discovered the Rue. Last year i tried an experiment. I grew Choisya ternata (which is not common in my area, although native to Mexico). I would see the wasps hovering around the Rue but never did they take a second look at the Choisya and i experienced 4 generations of peaceful and safe Giant Swallowtail caterpillers that grew to butterflyhood. I thought it was only a matter of time, but i was hopeful. I had grown only one Choisya t. and at the end of the rainy season, the Choisya dropped dead. I moved the existing caterpillars to a Rue plant nicely hidden in the patio area where they would have enough food to mature into pupahood. I think the Choisya t. did not have good enough drainage to survive our rainy season. Now i am starting new Choisya t. plants that i hope will survive in a place where there is better drainage. What charming caterpillars they are and such beautiful butterflies. I love having them in the garden.
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
Image
wildflowers
Feb 17, 2015 9:17 AM CST
Hi Beverly! I'm so glad you found my article and enjoyed reading about the Giant Swallowtail butterflies!

When I wrote about these beautiful butterflies, I wanted to make the point that they did not harm my citrus trees. They really aren't aggressive eaters, like some larvae can be. I've seen some nibble on the same leaf for their entire life as a caterpillar! Over the years of observing them, they have never caused damage to any of my citrus trees! And, like you, I'm always hoping people will reconsider the use of chemicals!

Thank you for telling your experience with them. Choisya ternata looks like a plant I would like to learn more about! Thumbs up Best wishes with growing it again!

Thanks again for your comments. Smiling
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
Image
bhart90
Aug 9, 2016 7:03 PM CST
vitrsna said: Hurray! Hi Christine...I appreciated your article about the Giant Swallowtails and especially that you noted they did not harm the citrus trees. Hopefully that will bring some awareness to people who commonly use insecticides to eliminate the larva.

These butterflies are also common visitors to my garden. When i had both a Lime tree and a Rue plant, i noticed that the Swallowtails showed a preference to lay eggs on the Rue and only used the Lime tree when there was no more space on the Rue. I no longer have the Lime tree but i increased the plants of Rue. The Swallowtails became heavily predated when the wasps discovered the Rue. Last year i tried an experiment. I grew Choisya ternata (which is not common in my area, although native to Mexico). I would see the wasps hovering around the Rue but never did they take a second look at the Choisya and i experienced 4 generations of peaceful and safe Giant Swallowtail caterpillers that grew to butterflyhood. I thought it was only a matter of time, but i was hopeful. I had grown only one Choisya t. and at the end of the rainy season, the Choisya dropped dead. I moved the existing caterpillars to a Rue plant nicely hidden in the patio area where they would have enough food to mature into pupahood. I think the Choisya t. did not have good enough drainage to survive our rainy season. Now i am starting new Choisya t. plants that i hope will survive in a place where there is better drainage. What charming caterpillars they are and such beautiful butterflies. I love having them in the garden.


Curious, why did you plant Choisya ternata, did you know that would help repel predators?
Brenden

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Giant Swallowtail Butterflies and Your Citrus Trees
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "Pacific Blue Ice"