Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: June 2014 Butterflies, Moths & Larva

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Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 1, 2014 12:14 PM CST

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We came from here: The thread "May 2014 Butterflies, Moths & Larva" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum

Back from the museum where I did not pass out today and stayed hydrated despite the weather. Also talked to some very interesting people today. One mom and daughter had moved here in October and apparently the previous owners had a butterfly garden so they were trying to learn all the plants and the caterpillars and butterflies. I sent them off with several of our brochures and pamphlets. I also talked to a guy who used to trade and sell cocoons (he dealt mostly in moths) and he had a lot of interesting stories.

I also changed my mind this morning when I saw how much the Pipevine ST cats were eating. I left nine of them at the museum but kept more than that for myself. Hopefully, they will do okay eating the Trilobed Pipevine and will be big and fat next Sunday.

Here's my first picture from my house this morning. This Gulf Frit was just hanging out on the passion vine.

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Now, at the museum in the flight cage we still have tons of Zebra Longwings.

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And still lots of Monarchs even though a lot of our chrysalises were parasatized.

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And I think my boss netted a Giant Swallowtail because we haven't had the cats in forever and we didn't have any chrysalises overwinter that I can remember. This one always gets a lot of attention from the guests and today was no exception. I made sure the other volunteers knew what it was so they could point it out.

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And we had one Cloudless Sulphur hanging out.

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I had to pick a LOT of milkweed to feed the Monarch piggies today and while I was out there in the garden I saw some cool butterflies like this White Peacock! Haven't seen one of these in a couple of months.

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And I found a Cassius Blue that was sitting still! Shock! It's on lantana, FYI.

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And there were two Polydamas that would not stop flying but I managed to get a picture anyway! By the way, these Polydamas looked really big to me. I think there must be something going on this year because certain cats and butterflies look extra-large to me.

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And of course, I found eggs and two groups of Polydamas caterpillars. My Mom says they're snuggling. And who am I to argue?

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 1, 2014 1:30 PM CST

Moderator

Salon has a great interview with Chip Taylor from Monarch Watch: http://www.salon.com/2014/06/01/monsanto_vs_the_monarchs_the...
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
central Illinois
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jmorth
Jun 1, 2014 5:46 PM CST
Good one on the Cassius Blue (others too)
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 1, 2014 6:08 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks J! Those suckers are tiny! And they hardly ever stop so I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
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
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 1, 2014 6:12 PM CST
Yeh, I can't believe one was sitting still that long either! GREAT going Melanie! Hurray!
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: Ive
Florida (Zone 10b)
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MamaIve12
Jun 1, 2014 6:31 PM CST
Mellie, love your pics and the descriptions! For me, this was the happy discovery of the day- swallowtail caterpillars on my dill!

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I hope they have enough to eat..
Gardening is cheaper than therapy!
Boricua in Florida, I guess that makes me a Floridicua!
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
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 1, 2014 6:53 PM CST
Hurray! Hurray! Ive!
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: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 1, 2014 9:31 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks, Ann and Ive! Ive, if you run out of food and don't want to buy more plants, I've used the organic parsley from Publix with success. You have to feed them a lot of it since the nutrition starts to decline as soon as you pick any plant, but at least it didn't kill them.

It does seem like the Swallowtails have finally decided to show up in numbers! And just in time for the rainy season. Hilarious!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ive
Florida (Zone 10b)
Butterflies Container Gardener Region: Florida Enjoys or suffers hot summers Sempervivums Orchids
Plumerias Dragonflies Birds
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MamaIve12
Jun 2, 2014 4:46 AM CST
Since I've only spotted two, I think they will be ok. I also have rue in my backyard, so if they eat all the dill and parsley, I can move them to the rue plants. Smiling
Gardening is cheaper than therapy!
Boricua in Florida, I guess that makes me a Floridicua!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 2, 2014 5:17 AM CST

Moderator

Good deal, Ive. It's always best to have a variety of host plants!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 2, 2014 8:14 AM CST

Moderator

I had to go out and pick breakfast for the cats so I took the camera. Not too much flying this morning except the usual suspects. It's actually kind of windy outside. I know I mentioned yesterday that we had many parasatized Monarch chrysalises at the museum. It's a kind of fly that parasatizes them (although I've had the wasps, too). I get the flies more than the wasps and the flies only seem to get the Monarchs for some reason. Wasps tend to get the Swallowtails. Hmm...gonna have to look that up. Anyway, when I was throwing away the chrysalises, I gathered all the fly larvae on a paper towel. Some were already in their pupa while some were still crawling (they kind of look like little grubs). Either way - gross! You'll be happy to know when I was done I balled the paper towel up and squished the ever-loving you-know-what out of it! No one parasatizes my caterpillars and gets to live!

Here's a pretty Gulf Fritillary that was posing for me.

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Mom moved a couple of Monarch cats to the Giant milkweed. You can see the big one, of course, but there's a blurry little one on the right bottom side of the leaf.

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Proof that a caterpillar can beat you at yoga any day of the week. I guess it helps not to have bones. Oh, and in an update on my Corky-Stem Passion Vine, it no longer has that new growth I took a picture of a few days ago. Or the Zebra Longwing eggs that were laid on it for that matter. I found two Gulf Frit cats that I am holding responsible and have relocated them to the P. "Lavender Lady" which is what the cat in this picture is on.

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This Zebra Longwing was in a weird position relative to me but when I moved he flew away which is why the second picture is so much further away.

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My Spicebush cats don't seem to be growing very fast so I'm trying a new tactic and feeding them Sassafras. As we all know, fruits and vegetables (and plants) lose their nutrition as soon as they're picked. I have this theory that maybe Spicebush loses it's nutrition faster than other plants; it certainly dries out pretty fast. And picking a leaf every day that was barely getting eaten was going to make me run out of the stuff pretty fast anyhow. So we're trying Sassafras and seeing how that goes. Dad wants me to run out of both so I have to go get Red Bay (from either MOSI or one of the county preserves). Dad's a woodturner and likes to be able to identify trees and he doesn't know Red Bay or Swamp Bay so he's just looking for a reason to make me go teach him. Hilarious!

Since I've been typing the Pipevine Swallowtails have attacked the new leaf and are currently crowded around the stem and are gnawing it down. Which is such a Polydamas thing to do! Seriously, once they get to a certain size, Polydamas love stem. They will eat the stems on your plant and all the leaves will be laying on the ground. It's incredibly wasteful, which is one reason I bring them inside to raise. I feel like I'm talking to little kids, "You have to eat your leaf before you get any more stem!" Rolling on the floor laughing
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
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
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 2, 2014 11:24 AM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
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: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 2, 2014 1:28 PM CST

Moderator

See, this is what they do! Two or three of them will get around the stem and just gnaw it down until there's nothing left. Polydamas are notorious for this but maybe all Pipevine-eating butterflies like stems?

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By the way, the Spicebush cats have moved to the Sassafras and there are little holes where they've been eating so I guess it's a case of so far, so good.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 3, 2014 1:41 PM CST

Moderator

Well, when I came back from lunch I saw a White Peacock out front but by the time I went to get my camera, you know it was gone. Story of my life. I'm going to have to keep my camera in my pocket at all times for the next few months.

But when I woke up this afternoon (bad night's sleep) I went out to pick food and the usual suspects were present. The Zebra Longwings were enjoying the firebush.

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I don't normally grow milkweed in the half-circle formed by the driveway (that's where my bromeliads live under Dad's Canary Island Date Palm) but this one self-seeded and I can't bring myself to pull milkweed. You know you'll need it to feed a caterpillar eventually! And this one found it all by himself. There should be enough leaves on it for him to become a chrysalis so I left him alone. I did move a smaller Monarch cat on a different plant over to the Giant Milkweed, though. FYI, Dad knows not to pull milkweed, either. Although, if it seeds in the lawn, it gets mowed down. But that's not usually a problem. Mom saw some "black and red" bugs on the milkweed and started slapping my plant and I told her they were milkweed bugs and quit assaulting my plant. I'm not a huge fan of the milkweed bug but they're part of the package and unless they get too numerous, I leave them alone. Although, in the lab at the museum, I squish them because the only bugs allowed in the lab are caterpillars!

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The Gulf Frits were mostly eating the porterweed, as usual, but this one stopped to check out the Jatropha. A lot of people at the museum see an orange and black butterfly and think it's a Monarch. Usually it's adults; the kids are learning Monarchs in school, thankfully. But Gulf Frits are a bit smaller, and fly very differently. They are faster and flap their wings a lot more while Monarchs tend to glide a lot (this helps them save energy, particularly when migrating). Plus, Gulf Frits have shiny silver undersides! I know it shows like white in photos, but they're actually silver when the sun hits them.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 3, 2014 2:52 PM CST

Moderator

Ok, I went back outside because it looked like the Sassafras leaf was fading so I got the Spicebush cats a little leaf off the plant they can have something fresh to chew on. And of course, I took more pictures because there's always something going on...

Like Cassius Blue love! I saw this weird thing flying around and I thought it was a butterfly but it wasn't shaped quite right. Then, it landed and I realized it was two butterflies! Yes, they can fly while mating. One flies while the other basically just hangs from the other. I have no idea if the male or the female "takes the reins" so to speak. (Begin rant) We had a couple Monarchs flying around like that at MOSI this weekend and I was showing everyone in sight. One lady took a picture of the Monarch couple after they had landed and she asked me what was going on with these butterflies and I replied, "They're mating." Some people think it's cool and some you can tell feel really awkward. But I always try to keep it scientific, and I'm not afraid to talk about it even if there are kids around (they gotta learn someday). I even tell people how the males need salts and minerals to produce sperm and that is why the males tend to "puddle" or, in the flight cage, land on my head or arms and drink my sweat. People think it's neat when butterflies land on me and then I'm like, "The male just wants to drink the salt in my sweat to produce sperm" and then they tend to shut up. Hilarious! Just keepin' it real, folks. Plus, I just get tired of people who think butterflies want to magically land on them which they hardly ever do! Like I tell people, you are not made of nectar and you don't taste like a host plant! They do not want to land on you! You are big and scary and unknown! Seriously, the amount of people who come in and stick their arms out like the butterflies will just land on them automatically boggles my mind. (End Rant) Ok, I promised you a picture...these Cassius Blues are on their host plant, plumbago.


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A Long-Tailed Skipper with no tails was drinking the porterweed (they, like many butterflies, love porterweed). This is only the second one I've seen this year which is a little weird. I checked the butterfly pea for eggs, but still no luck. Must have been a male.

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Now, I took some pictures of this particular Zebra Longwing because I wanted to illustrate a point. If you look at its proboscis, you can see the yellow pollen it has collected. The butterfly will then secrete an enzyme that liquefies the pollen so it can then be slurped up through the proboscis. And this added nutrition is why Zebra Longwings can live 6-9 months. You can really see it in the last photo because of the contrast against the white of my house. It almost looks like a caterpillar or something is crawling up the proboscis!

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Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
Jun 3, 2014 6:40 PM CST
Zodiac Moth (Alcides metaurus). Diurnal and common and acts like a butterfly. Bramston Beach, NQ.

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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
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 3, 2014 7:27 PM CST
Geez Glen, they look huge! Blinking Blinking Blinking

I have a couple today. Little ones.

A pretty yellow skipper.
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I don't know what this one is.
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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: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jun 3, 2014 7:33 PM CST

Moderator

Glen, that is a cool moth. I love their fat bodies!

Ann, that looks like a Gray Hairstreak. How I wish I could grow coneflowers. They're native, right? So I'm thinking, easy. I grow all sorts of native plants! But I've tried them in shade, part shade, part sun, full sun, from seed, full-grown plants, species, hybrids - and I kill them every dang time! And they're such a great butterfly plant and I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. It's depressing. Thumbs down
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Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
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mcash70
Jun 3, 2014 7:57 PM CST
Melanie, I think it depends on the cultivar of coneflowers, you just have to find the right one for your area, and don't over water. That said, I have not found them to be great butterfly attractions in my area. Sad
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
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jun 3, 2014 8:02 PM CST
Thanks Melanie. I have known what it was but had forgotten & did not have time this evening to go hunting it down. I knew you would know. Hilarious!

Yes, it's coneflower. This variety is Magnus. I'm sort of new to growing them too. Here is what I discovered & we're close enough in location (or I know your conditions) that you will likely have the same experience. Last year, in May, I got a coneflower in a pot from Lowe's, planted it out (full sun) & it did great for a while BUT summer was early last year & pretty dry. I lost the coneflower. It just did not have time enough to dig in well before summer hit hard. This past fall, I again got coneflowers in pots from Lowe's ~~~ 2 of them. I planted them in the same location as previously (full sun) & they had time to establish before winter hit. They went almost completely dormant during winter & then as soon as spring came, they went nuts! They are now nice & healthy & I feel they are ready to take on our inferno summers & any drought that comes along. In my research, I read a lot of people reporting they don't like to be moved & they don't like to be transplanted as seedlings. So I thought the best method is to get them in the fall, in pots, plant them out, & then they have time to dig their heels in & then rest during winter (perhaps building that root system) w/o having to expend energy for leaves & blooms.
Ideally, I would like to get the corms & plant them but I am having trouble finding any that way that are available in the fall (our fall).
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 ~~



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