Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: July 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
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mellielong
Jul 1, 2014 2:38 PM CST

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

Ok, I'm aware that my first photo is going to be the thumbnail everyone looks at all month and so I'm choosing to feature the humble Duskywing this month. Because we shouldn't overlook our Skippers. Not everyone can be a Swallowtail and that's ok. The Duskywings are always hanging around when lots of other butterflies have deserted me or just not shown up yet. Don't ever be afraid to show us a picture of a butterfly just because it's not one of the pretty or interesting ones. They're ALL interesting to me. And what may be common to you isn't common to me and vice versa so I like to see all the pictures you guys have.

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And in all honesty, not too many butterflies were flying today. I did see the Giant ST make a sweep through my side yard straight to neighbor Jim's but it did not stop. The Gulf Frits and Zebra Longwings were out but not really stopping, either. So that's another reason the Duskywing gets to be the star. They love Spanish Needles so I have them almost year-round.

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In egg news, the Zebra Longwings have found the Corky-Stem passion vine once again. It never takes long.

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And in exciting news, I found my first Eastern Black ST egg on my rue! It's the cream-colored orb, that dark thing is a bug I blew away later. It's amazing a butterfly managed to find the rue because of the various plants and weeds growing over and around it. I think it only laid one egg because that's all the space on the plant it could access. I thought about taking a picture to show you what I mean, but I'm too embarrassed to let you see the state of my weeds right now.

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And in more exciting news, I found bunches of Pipevine ST eggs on the wrong pipevine again. So I picked the stems they were on because I needed food for the Polydamas anyway. That was the whole reason I went outside in the first place. And speaking of Polydamas, I found this guy who I somehow missed earlier! And right after I took this picture, the sky opened up and one of our famous torrential summer rains chased me back in the house.

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Which means I'll have to go back out and check the pipevine more thoroughly but here's all the eggs I collected. I knew that Pipevine ST I saw the other day was up to something. And it's sad to think, if I didn't collect these eggs, they would all die on the plant.

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[Last edited by mellielong - Jul 1, 2014 2:40 PM (+)]
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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
Jul 1, 2014 2:46 PM CST

Moderator

I forgot to add that my Spicebush ST cat that refused to grow finally passed away today. I don't know what was wrong with him, or all his siblings who died, but at least he had a nice life as a caterpillar even if he never made it to being a butterfly.
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Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
Jul 1, 2014 5:07 PM CST
I like the Duskwing. I have tried to photograph skippers here but they are worse then big butterflies. Zoom, zoom.
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
Jul 1, 2014 7:56 PM CST

Moderator

That's the reason they got the name "skippers", Glen. They skip from one flower to the next. And for those who are curious, it is believed that skippers were the first family of butterflies to break off from moths during evolution. Makes sense when you look at them.
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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Jul 1, 2014 8:08 PM CST
Yes, it sure does.
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
Jul 2, 2014 10:31 AM CST

Moderator

Well, the phone woke me up this morning so I went out to pick food a little earlier than usual today. Still, the usual visitors. It does seem like I got all the Pipevine eggs off the plant despite the rain interrupting me yesterday. There's a bunch of these Dainty Sulphurs flying around. Unfortunately, they all hang out on the corners where there's no shade and it's just brutally hot. And getting them to sit still is really hard. I probably got sunburned in the four minutes it took me to get this picture. It's nectaring on frogfruit which is also a host plant for the White Peacock and Phaeon Crescent.

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Ok, not a butterfly, but here's that bee I keep trying to get a picture of. I'm going to research and see what kind he is.

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At least four Duskywings were flying around.

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Gulf Frits still abound.

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And I found that Zebra Longwing cat Mom relocated. He seems to be doing fine.

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jmorth
Jul 2, 2014 10:30 PM CST
Hackberry on glass (check the reflection)
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Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Region: Australia Annuals Canning and food preservation Herbs Tropicals Foliage Fan
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Gleni
Jul 3, 2014 2:04 AM CST
Lol. Thumbs up
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
Jul 3, 2014 10:26 AM CST

Moderator

Okay everyone, I'm having a super awesome day. I went to see my psychiatrist this morning and like I mentioned before, he has willows that grow in the ditch behind his offices. So I took some tupperware and my camera and after my appointment was over I went looking.

At first, I saw this White Peacock nectaring on frogfruit. It's also a host plant but this one just appeared to be nectaring.

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But then I got super excited because I found a caterpillar! Woo hoo! And I'm like 99% certain this is a Viceroy (more on that in a minute).

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I actually found two caterpillars and I should have taken a picture of the other one because he's bigger but I got a little distracted by something dark flying overhead. I backed up and let it land - and it was a Red-Spotted Purple! My second favorite butterfly that I hardly ever see even though I have its host plant (Black Cherry) in my yard. Now, this butterfly sat on this same leaf just gently flapping its wings every few seconds for the whole ten minutes I was hunting. I have no idea what it was doing - basking? It wasn't laying eggs because I know what that looks like. Plus, my books say the RSP doesn't use willows as a host (I double-checked) even though they are in the same family as the Viceroy. So I'm pretty sure those cats are Viceroys. Enjoy lots of pretty pictures of the RSP!

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Oh, and as I was leaving this morning I did catch a Long-Tailed Skipper basking. It's about the only time you get to see the pretty turquoise color on their back since they normally hold their wings closed. The picture is a little blurry because, much like my glasses, my camera lens fogs up when I move from air-conditioning to the humidity outside.

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I'll post some pictures of the bigger caterpillar later and educate you guys on Viceroy behavior but right now my camera battery is charging and I'm l leaving for the movies. On a side note, I get to train a new volunteer at MOSI this weekend. Should be fun!

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Name: Ronnie
Southeastern PA (Zone 6b)
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luvsgrtdanes
Jul 3, 2014 11:16 AM CST
Wonderful shots Melanie I tip my hat to you.
I'm not seeing much in my neck of the woods this year. We had a very cool spring to say the least. Hoping now that the heat is hear I will get some more activity.
It happens in a flash, but the memory of it last forever. It can not be borrowed or stolen, and it is of no earthly good until it is given away. So if in your hurry you meet someone who is too weary to smile, leave him one of yours, for no one needs a smile quite as much as he who has none to give...

Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Jul 3, 2014 11:58 AM CST
Cool shot with the reflection J.
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: Dave
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TennesseeDave
Jul 3, 2014 12:41 PM CST
Melanie so glad you got your RSP. Hurray!
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
Jul 3, 2014 3:03 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks Dave, it's nice to see one even if I don't see the caterpillars anymore. Although, my neighbor's cherry tree totally had RSP activity on it. How do I know? Well, let's learn about Viceroys and Red-Spotted Purples...

Viceroys and RSPs are in the same family, even though the Viceroy is a Monarch mimic. The RSP is a Pipevine mimic so they're both trying to look like other butterflies. Viceroys pretty much eat willow as far as I know, and RSPs eat cherry although my book also adds aspen and poplar for the Viceroy and oak and poplar for the RSP. Although, Florida is literally covered in oaks and I've only ever found RSPs in cherry trees so not sure what to think about that. Never tried feeding one oak, either. But certain species eat different things in various parts of their range so what I find them on may not be what you find them on.

But, finding them can be easy! Both Viceroys and RSPs lay eggs in the same manner. They sit backward with their butt right on the very tip of the leaf and lay their egg there. I mean, right on the very tip. Then, the caterpillars eat the leaf in a distinct pattern. Here's where a picture is useful.

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See, the caterpillar will eat all but the vein of the end of the leaf and then hang out on the end. This guy was heading for the leaf but I think he was trying to escape me. (I'm pretty scary.) I find that RSPs tend to leave a little bit of leaf to rest on at the end so the vein of the leaf makes kind of a "moat", if you will, to discourage predators from heading any further down the leaf. So if you see a leaf eaten in that manner, you've got caterpillar activity. As they grow they'll change leaves so look around if you don't see it at first.

Also, these caterpillars tend to curl up when they sit and I have no idea why. Must be a defensive thing. They also have what I call antlers which you can kind of see on this one, but they will be much more impressive in the next week or two.

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Now, I had to go out in the yard to pick food again. FYI, I don't have willow growing within walking distance. Well, technically, there's some one street over which used to be walking distance before I got sick but now I drive my car over. And MOSI has lots of willow, too but for some reason we rarely raise Viceroys. The willow grows behind the museum in what we call the "Back Woods" area which has trails and stuff but I'm too afraid of going back there by myself anymore in case I should have a health emergency (or just plain pass out). And I used to find a lot of Spicebushes back there because there's Red Bay, too. I miss it.

Anyway, out in the yard I had the usual suspects. The Gulf Frits remain the dominant species.

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Lots of Zebra Longwings, too. Can you see the pollen coating its proboscis? So neat!

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I thought I saw a Pipevine ST flying around but it wouldn't hold still so I kept on picking food. Then, I turned the corner and BAM! There she was. You can kind of see the reddish-orange eggs peeking out from the left side of that leaf she's near.

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Here's another picture. Also, I took a picture of the eggs once she left. Don't they still look a little wet? I found some more eggs - about ten total but I'll have to keep checking each day.

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And as I was walking back to the house I unintentionally scared a Duskywing in the yard.

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Name: Dave
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TennesseeDave
Jul 4, 2014 2:23 PM CST
A couple from today on the Lantana and Zinnia

NOID Skipper
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Great Spangled Fritillary
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[Last edited by TennesseeDave - Jul 4, 2014 2:38 PM (+)]
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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Jul 4, 2014 3:12 PM CST
Nice Dave, that last one is stellar, you can see the hairs on it's body.
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
Jul 4, 2014 3:45 PM CST

Moderator

If you're going to see a butterfly on the 4th of July, it feels like it should involve the word "spangled". You know, I wasn't 100% sure what "spangled" meant since the only time I say it when I'm referencing the National Anthem so I looked it up and I think the definition we're going for with the butterfly is: "a small glittering object or particle". So either someone was feeling nationalistic or just decided that butterfly was shinier than the rest. And really, how does one judge that? They all shine brightly in my world. FYI, I've only seen one Great-Spangled Fritillary (confirmed by the BAMONA site) but that was in KY or WV. They're not in any of my Florida books so I don't think we get them, even in the Panhandle. Thanks for sharing Dave; it's one of those that might be common to some people but I never see them so hooray!

I had a butterfly first thing in the morning! I woke up about 6am because I went to bed around 8pm. Now, I sleep with a lamp on (long story, just go with it, but I'm not afraid of the dark). Usually, this poses no problems for butterflies but apparently my Spicebush didn't get the message and came out at some point while I was sleeping. So he was raring to go! Thus, the only picture you get is of him through the silked-up side of my critter keeper. Because like the internet says, "Pictures or it didn't happen." And in case you're thinking, "Melanie, you've got an Orange-Barred Sulphur caterpillar in that tank", to that I say, "You are right". Space was at a premium and that Spicebush cat that never grew had the whole place to himself while the Orange-Barreds were getting too big for their tupperware so we switched homes. And butterflies don't harm caterpillars (maybe annoy them with all that fluttering) so it's not a big deal.

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In other news, my bigger Viceroy cat molted so now you can really see his antlers! They get really awesome when he's in the last instar. You can see his molted skin behind him.

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Still lots of Zebra Longwings. One of my Facebook friends who is a gardener but not a butterfly person even got a nice picture of a Zebra today. And I was like "Yay" and let her know what it was. And she said how at sundown she sees them all go to this same tree and group together. So I told her how they are one of the few butterflies that roost together and how I see it sometimes at MOSI. Don't know where they go in my neighborhood. My oak trees are pretty tall. That's where the Spicebush flew off to this morning which is why you got no more pictures. Anyway, here's a Zebra Longwing on firebush.

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I was out picking pipevine before the rain washes us all away (it's been thundering for over an hour now) and I was looking for Pipevine eggs but found Polydamas instead! Remember, Pipevine are reddish orange, Polydamas are yellowish. Sad news, I lost two Polydamas cats today which is odd because they are near indestructible. I'm pretty sure the one was the one I picked off the vine a few days ago because he was bigger than all the others so maybe a parasite but I don't know what happened to the other one. He had just molted, too! Very sad. Polydamas are good ones to raise because they hardly ever die. But you need a lot of Pipevine because they hardly ever die (and they eat like Monarchs - non-stop!).

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The Duskywings are always out there now.

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And here's a bad picture of a Long-Tailed Skipper on the butterfly pea. It might have laid eggs but I guess I got too close. There were two of them flying around and they were nectaring but they are so fast you get your camera pointed at the flower and they've already moved on. That's why they call them skippers!

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And speaking of Long-Tailed Skippers, some of my caterpillars are pretty big. Lots of them died because they do not have a good survival rate. But of those who made it, I recalled something super cool about the caterpillars. They have orange feet! It's adorable! I had totally forgotten about that because it's been so long since I raised them. Check it out.

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Happy 4th of July everyone! My neighbors were already setting off fireworks while I was out picking food so apparently they don't require darkness. I imagine when it does get dark things will get really raucous, as always. I'll just pray I don't hear the sound of sirens meaning an ambulance is coming to take somebody to have their fingers sewn back on. Interestingly, my dad sees his hand surgeon on Monday (Dad has a genetic condition that affects his hands) and I'm totally going to tell him to ask the doctor how his weekend was. This and New Year's must be horrible for hand injuries. Stay safe, folks!
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Name: Linda
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LindaTX8
Jul 4, 2014 8:46 PM CST
I also wonder how many end up at the ER on a holiday like this. I thought I heard something hit the roof a little while ago...wouldn't be the first time a (hopefully) spent fireworks thingy from the neighbors did that! Anyway, both the Monarch cats had pupated and eventually they emerged yesterday, let them fly away this morning! Male & female, both perfect! At least I got one pic that wasn't really bad!
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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
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jmorth
Jul 4, 2014 11:57 PM CST
Monarch
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Monarch and Red Admiral
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Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
Jul 5, 2014 2:34 AM CST
How absolutely pretty.
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
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mellielong
Jul 5, 2014 3:27 AM CST

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J, I don't know if this will disappoint or excite you, but that's a Viceroy. You can tell because of the circular arc through the hind wings. I don't have a lot of Viceroy pictures or I would post the difference. You can Google it, though. Personally, I would like to see a Viceroy as I hardly ever see them in my garden. And they're not big on nectaring on flowers all the time, as Dave graphically showed us last month. Hilarious! And why does everyone keep taunting me with their gorgeous coneflowers? I'm a coneflower killer (hangs head in shame).

But that is a good example of the Viceroy doing its job and fooling predators into thinking it's a Monarch. That's how it protects itself, although I have read recent research that there might be certain chemicals in the Viceroy's host plants that also make it taste bad. When I was new to this, I posted a photo of a Viceroy on that DG site and everyone told me I had a Queen because of the color. Like I said earlier, Viceroys in areas with significant Queen populations will also mimic the color of the Queen. Not sure how my neighborhood has a significant Queen population, but whatever. It was only years later when I was looking back through my photos that I realized I'd seen a Viceroy all that time ago.

But great pictures! I'm still jealous of your ability to grow coneflowers, though. And see Viceroys. But I have the Viceroy caterpillars to look at right now, so it's cool. Hilarious!
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