Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: February 2015 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
Feb 1, 2015 3:36 PM CST

Moderator

We came from here: The thread "January 2015 Butterflies, Moths & Larva" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum

It's February! I don't put much stock in that groundhog, so hopefully you're all in the home stretch of the winter season and butterflies will be returning soon. I ended up spending a little longer at MOSI today than I meant to, but I get to talking butterflies, and I won't shut up!

Here's a picture of two Monarchs that I thought would be a nice thumbnail for the month. I was literally walking around the flight cage asking the butterflies who wanted to be the "cover butterfly" for February. These two posted the nicest, so here they are.

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This morning it was cool but it warmed up nicely but some of the butterflies would not come down from the screen. So let's start with my bad pictures first! Here's our last Atala (until we order more).

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Here's a Duskywing that I thought was going to pose for me, but no such luck. Still, I know it's "pictures or it didn't happen", so here's proof.

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This Cloudless Sulphur didn't come down the entire four hours I was there.

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I caught this Gulf Fritillary out in the garden after stalking it for about twenty minutes. After a certain point, it kind of becomes personal. Melanie won this round.

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There's one Giant ST in the flight cage, but we do still have a few chrysalises left. This one wasn't very cooperative although it did land on a guest today! Here it is on the geraniums. (That's the very bright Florida sun in the background.) Rolling on the floor laughing

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Okay, I have some good pictures, too. We had four Great Southern Whites in the flight cage that were somewhat cooperative. While it was still cold, I made the one on my finger cooperate. And as always, let me point out the exceptionally cool turquoise-colored antenna clubs. Too cool.

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We still have some Malachites but I think we're going to have to order more if we want to keep them going. They've pretty much stopped laying eggs.

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I guess I should have put this picture with the Great Southern Whites, but here are the caterpillars in the lab. They were eggs last week. I didn't notice this in real life, but looking at the picture, you can see that the one caterpillar has just molted. His head capsule is in front of him and his molted skin is behind him. So weird that I didn't notice that with my own eyes!

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Three Julias for the price of one!

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I managed to find a Cassius Blue sunning itself and got a decent picture! Shock!

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The official Florida state butterfly, the Zebra Longwing.

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We actually have a passion vine growing in the flight cage. But lately the bosses have been taking cuttings and hanging them from the Jatropha using a binder clip. And it works! Here's a Julia who was trying to lay eggs but the wind kept blowing real hard and she gave up. But you can kind of see the eggs on there that were deposited by earlier butterflies.

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Now, we have Heliotrope in the flight cage and I think it's one of those things that's going to die as soon as it warms up. But for those of you north of me (which is nearly everyone), I'm just going to leave some reasons why you might want to include it in your garden this year.

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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
Feb 1, 2015 3:44 PM CST

Moderator

Now, Cecelia and I were talking Gulf Frits and I found a caterpillar at MOSI today. Normally, we don't raise them in the lab because they get what I call "melting disease" and it's just nasty and kills them all. Plus, they're so abundant it's easier to just go net the adults and add them to the flight cage. But I took this one to the lab because we hardly have any caterpillars in the lab and I thought if it was just one caterpillar he should be safe.

So I'm looking at him and I notice he has those black stripes like the ones in Argentina. The caterpillar in Cecelia's picture looked nearly full-grown so it made me wonder if only the smaller caterpillars have that here and they turn solid orange when they get bigger? Do only some of them have the striping? Has it been so long since I've raised them that I stopped noticing? Whatever the reason, I'm going to make a point to notice them more this year and stop taking them for granted. They are the most common butterfly in this area and so I get used to them and just don't get as excited about them. I will try to be equally excited for all butterflies this year! I will fail, but I will try! In the meantime, here's some pictures of the caterpillar where I found him and then inside the lab.

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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
Feb 1, 2015 7:57 PM CST
Great report Melanie. Very, very interesting about the Gulf Frit cats having the stripes like Cecelia's. Hummmm.... it does make one wonder...... I'll be waiting to hear as the season progresses & may even give you a little nudge from time to time just to remind you to take note.

Yesterday we saw the 1st butterfly we've seen in around a month -- a sulphur -- too far away for me to grab the camera & go a-chasing but I was glad to see it.

Happy butterflying y'all!
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 1, 2015 9:16 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, feel free to remind me because I often see something shiny and wander off. Rolling on the floor laughing Seriously, my memory is not so good anymore. And I do really take those Frits for granted. I have two confirmed Corky-Stem Passion Vine volunteers in my yard that I'm going to have to move but that should bring in the Frits and the Zebra Longwings like crazy. Plus, I discovered a whole bunch of it growing behind the museum! I may have to take some cuttings...the Zebras especially devoured my plant and just as soon as another leaf would pop out they'd lay an egg on it! So I need lots more of Corky-Stem. Gonna raise me lots of Zebra Longwings and Gulf Frits this year. Just probably not in captivity.
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
Image
flaflwrgrl
Feb 1, 2015 9:20 PM CST
Yay for finding the corky stemmed! Hurray! 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: 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
Image
mellielong
Feb 2, 2015 9:05 AM CST

Moderator

Volunteer plants are the best! I was going to buy some more Corky-stem this year, and I still may, but now I don't have to buy as much. More money to spend on native pipevines! I can't believe February is already here! I'm going to have start making lists and making purchases. Gotta get those plants in the ground before the butterflies show up.

In other good news, the pellitory is starting to appear. Well, I haven't found it yet in my yard, but I'll have to go check over on the side where it sometimes comes up. It was all over MOSI. The Red Admiral uses it as a host plant and most years I get the opportunity to raise a few. Even though most people would say it's a weed, I leave it alone because of the host plant thing, but also because it largely dries up and disappears by about May. This is also why I only see Red Admirals in the spring. They also use nettles as a host plant, but no one is planting those in their garden!

The Virginia Pepper Grass is also making its comeback in preparation for our White butterflies. It, too, is considered a weed but dries up like the pellitory. I know some years my boss has dashed through the gardens at MOSI trying to find one plant that isn't dried up for the caterpillars. Both the Great Southern Whites and Checkered Whites use it but the Checkered are more common in my part of the county. Pepper grass grows along the medians and sides of roads. I used to drive home on the interstate and just watch hundreds of them flying around as I was stuck in rush hour traffic.

Lots of other things are leafing out, too. The Redbuds are blooming. My Black Cherry tree has leaves again so that's good news for my Red-Spotted Purples. In bad news, oak pollen season is here. My allergist actually cuts back the amount they inject in my allergy shots so as not to overdose us. Rolling on the floor laughing

Today is gloomy and my phone app says there is a 100% chance of rain. Bad for the butterflies, but the plants need it so in a way, it is good for the butterflies. I was talking to a guest yesterday who treats people with traumatic brain injuries (I meet the neatest people) and we were comparing the brain to the environment since they are both such interconnected systems where if one thing goes wrong, you potentially lose everything. I also met a young woman who was talking to her child and pronounced "proboscis" correctly. I feigned shock that she said it right and we laughed. She admitted she was a nerd but I told her, "This is a science museum. We love nerds!" Hilarious!
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 3, 2015 2:16 PM CST

Moderator

It's a boy! This is the Monarch I found in its J when I was weeding. He came so close to getting pulled! But as you can see he came out just fine. Naturally, he waited until I went to my doctor appointment and was waiting when I got back. I swear they can see through the chrysalis. It's in the low 60s out there so I put him on the Jatropha to catch some rays.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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jmorth
Feb 4, 2015 1:02 AM CST
Nice pics!
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 4, 2015 10:31 AM CST

Moderator

It's easy when they can't fly! Rolling on the floor laughing
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: María Cecilia Merlo
La Plata, ARGENTINA
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ceci
Feb 4, 2015 10:49 AM CST
Interesting report about the "espejito" caterpillars Melanie! Smiling I have never seen an orange one .
Another "espejito" was in my garden.
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Name: Patti
Australian Alps (Zone 8a)
I will never act my age.
Sempervivums Keeps Horses Cactus and Succulents Region: Australia Sedums Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Sunlover
Feb 4, 2015 4:31 PM CST
Spot the butterfly in my Eucomis. This fella stayed on the plant for over an hour. This Eucomis flower smells like musky butterscotch (not altogether unpleasant but quite strong) and attracts flies, bees and butterflies. It's pollenated by flies.
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Succulent Addict
[Last edited by Sunlover - Feb 4, 2015 4:32 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #780191 (11)
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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jmorth
Feb 4, 2015 5:37 PM CST
Good looking butterfly on an even better looking bulb.
You should enter that Eucomis in the database.
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 4, 2015 6:48 PM CST

Moderator

Okay, can I just say that "Espejito" is much less of a tongue-twister than Gulf Fritillary. We've got enough Spanish speakers in Florida; I'm just going to start saying it in Spanish. Hilarious! I think I will pull that out when I have international visitors at the museum. I always like to add new trivia bits to my talks. Besides, if I say the name they're used to hearing, maybe they'll be like, "Oh, it's the same species!"

Patti, that's a butterfly? It kind of reminds me of one of our moths over here except yours is much bigger. It's the spots that are making me think of this moth I saw in WV. I had it identified by BAMONA and they called it an Eight-Spotted Forester Moth. But it's way smaller than your butterfly. By the way, I do like your plant, but I hate butterscotch. Nasty stuff. My grandpa loved it, though. Here's my moth.

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One of my bosses at the museum is on vacation in Costa Rica right now and her pictures on Facebook are making me insane with jealousy! I'm not even a bird person but she posted this bird and it's so beautiful! I told her I didn't know how she wasn't smuggling plants and critters in her suitcase to take back, but she said her husband is keeping her in check and ruining all her plans. Rolling on the floor laughing

Finally, check out the banner today. It's some kind of iris, but I swear when I first saw the yellow with the orange on it I thought it was an Orange-Barred Sulphur. That's exactly what the wings of the male look like. Isn't it neat when you see things in nature that match like that? I know that's sort of the point of a lot of butterflies and moths - blend in to hide! But I thought that was cool.
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 4, 2015 7:21 PM CST

Moderator

So I was just explaining Espejitos over on Facebook and one of my friends who speaks Spanish says it means "little mirrors". I guess I should have asked Cecelia or dug out my old Spanish-English dictionary from high school but I hadn't thought of that. But that's such a fitting name because the silvery spots on the undersides of the wings do indeed look like little mirrors! I'm totally adding this to my trivia now. It's hard to capture in a photo because the spots look white but I can assure you when the sun hits them, they are very silvery. I love learning new things! Here's a couple of pictures from earlier this year showing the underside of the Gulf Frit...I mean, Espejito!

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: María Cecilia Merlo
La Plata, ARGENTINA
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ceci
Feb 5, 2015 10:33 AM CST
I agree with you, Melanie ! I think the name comes from the little silvery spots. Thumbs up I agree
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
Feb 5, 2015 1:21 PM CST
I agree three! Smiling
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: Patti
Australian Alps (Zone 8a)
I will never act my age.
Sempervivums Keeps Horses Cactus and Succulents Region: Australia Sedums Vegetable Grower
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Sunlover
Feb 6, 2015 2:37 AM CST
Found it Mel. You are right of course, it is a moth. Hurray! Orange Spotted Tiger Moth (Amata annulata).

About the butterscotch smell, to me it smells like butterscotch but to hubby it smells like vanilla. Someone else said it was like strawberry. How about that! Hilarious! So who knows what it would smell like to you. What an amazing plant. I see so many different insects on it. Bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles --- all crawling all over it like they are enjoying it. Nothing eats it, no diseases and winter tolerant. It's the perfect plant I think. (the insects think so)
Succulent Addict
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 6, 2015 11:32 AM CST

Moderator

Well, I freely admit that I do like being right. It's kind of a way of life for me. Rolling on the floor laughing But honestly, that one just reminded me of a moth. I know butterflies certainly vary a lot worldwide so I actually wasn't trying to be right on that one. But I'm glad we all have an identification now in case anyone wants to look it up and learn more.

And people do certainly have different senses of smell. I always heard heliotrope smells like vanilla but the ones we have in our flight cage smell nice, but nothing like vanilla. Maybe they're a different species of heliotrope than the ones in the catalogs I receive?

Also, if any of you guys out there are totally sick of winter and want to remember what spring looks like, check out the link in my signature. The boss has posted a new blog that's pretty much just pictures of lots of stuff blooming around the gardens. The Walter's Viburnum and the Redbuds are being especially showy right now.
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
Image
mellielong
Feb 7, 2015 2:27 PM CST

Moderator

So I had a few things out in the garden today. I was mostly taking pictures of my bromeliads but I called out, "Here, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly." And I turned around and there was a Zebra Longwing! No kidding, folks. Apparently, I can now speak to Zebra Longwings. It landed on the plumbago but took off for this yellow weed that constantly grows in my yard. You'd think I'd know the name of it by now, but I don't. It's kind of interesting to see what the butterflies nectar on when they have a limited variety. Although, my jatropha is blooming so I don't know why the Zebra wasn't on it. Maybe I just missed that part.

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If this is the same Monarch cat I've been seeing then I think it's growing pretty slowly. I hope it doesn't have parasites. Mom thinks this recent crop of caterpillars has more black striping than usual. They can vary quite a bit.

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Apparently, Monarchs speak a different dialect than Zebra Longwings because the one I saw on my neighbor's firecracker fern would not listen to me. However, she vastly underestimated my stalking skills. I caught her on the Mexican Flame Vine but she soon flew to the pentas. No butterfly can resist the allure of the pentas.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Image
jmorth
Feb 7, 2015 4:51 PM CST
Your butterfly stalking skills are legendary!
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.

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