Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: May 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
Apr 30, 2015 4:40 PM CST

Moderator

I'm back from Selby and I'm so excited I'm starting a new thread for the month! I'm only a few hours early.

I had a great time, but the best part was that I SAW A NEW BUTTERFLY!!! Now, I had an idea that I might see this one when I was driving to the garden, but I got distracted by all the plants once I got there and kind of forgot. Plus, I didn't see this one until after lunch so I'd already been there like three hours. So what did I see? A Mangrove Skipper! Now, as you might have guessed from the name, the caterpillars eat Red Mangrove as their host plant. So you only see these guys near the coast. And since Selby sits right on the water and has mangroves, I got to see this guy! There were actually two of them on the pentas and I took so many pictures. I guessed I must have taken 50 but I just checked and I took 55! I won't post them all, I promise. Rolling on the floor laughing So I'm starting the month of May with a butterfly new to me, and hopefully things will kick off soon for most of the country and you guys may see a butterfly new to you this year! Hurray! So without further ado, the Mangrove Skipper!

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Awesome, right? It has blue iridescence, but not as bright as the Pipevine Swallowtail. They're also a much larger skipper than I imagined. And they let me get really close to them!

Now, for the other boring stuff I saw. Rolling on the floor laughing There were tons of Monarchs flying around today. It was really windy today and Selby is right on Sarasota Bay so the wind off the water was pretty strong. Felt kind of bad for the butterflies.

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I only found one tiny Monarch cat despite all the adults flying around.

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This Zebra Longwing was on some kind of wild coffee plant.

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Found a nest on a Red Bay tree but it was empty. Spicebush ST cats build nests and fold the leaves over. That's what you look for when you want to find caterpillars. Sometimes you get a caterpillar surprise, sometimes you don't.

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I tried stalking this White Peacock but I think they frown on you walking on the plants.

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Their pipevine had plenty of Polydamas cats!

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And there were a couple of Polydamas flying around including one who stopped to lay eggs. Check it out - does she look like she flew through a pollen storm or what?

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Monk Skipper with bee friend on porterweed. The non-native porterweed, I'll point out.

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They have Duskywings, too!

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This male Spicebush ST was a little beat up but he's still going strong. As you can see, he's on the same red pentas as the Mangrove Skipper. The red pentas were really popular.

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Other species I saw but couldn't get pictures of include Giant Swallowtail, Great Southern White, and lots of Orange-Barred Sulphurs.

Also, I know I said I wasn't allowed to buy plants, but you guys knew I was lying, right? Rolling on the floor laughing I totally bought two bromeliads. But two isn't that bad! And they were really pretty and I didn't own them yet. So I had to fix that. I'm going to post a whole thread about Selby and I'll let you guys know when it's ready. I took 868 pictures today! Thank goodness I packed that spare camera battery because I totally needed it. I wonder if they make Melanie batteries. I feel like I need to recharge! But I had tons of fun and I feel much better. Happy butterflying, everyone!
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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Apr 30, 2015 6:19 PM CST
Thanks for the new thread Melanie! Those Mangrove skippers are pretty cool and I see they tend to have their wings spread unlike so many other skippers. And yes, wow, that polydamas is just covered in pollen!
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: Meredith
Atlanta (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Butterflies Hummingbirder Seed Starter
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memays
Apr 30, 2015 8:24 PM CST
Love the mangrove skipper! And isn't it fun to see a new species? I heard there's spot in the greater Atlanta area where they've seen Baltimore checkerboard. I got all excited must investigate further
I love butterfly gardening & am active in NABA. Please visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/nabageorgia/ & website nabageorgia.weebly.com.
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
Apr 30, 2015 8:28 PM CST

Moderator

I know butterflying isn't yet as popular as birding, but I know those bird people go nuts when we get reports of rare birds. Since Florida is a flyover zone, we sometimes get weird visitors - animals and people! Rolling on the floor laughing I'm friends with the Great Florida Birding Trail on Facebook and they post "Rare Bird Alerts" when someone spots something cool. And then everyone runs out to go see it, too. I think that's kind of fun. It's always neat to see something unexpected. Also, seeing it in a book just isn't the same as seeing it in the wild. Even as much as I love butterfly exhibits, I still think it's so much cooler to see them in their natural habitat.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
Morning Glories Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants Butterflies Garden Photography
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mcash70
Apr 30, 2015 10:50 PM CST
Melanie, glad you had such a great day, that Mangrove Skipper is beautiful, I love Skippers. 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
May 1, 2015 2:23 PM CST

Moderator

Today it was back to feeding the critters but it's so nice out I don't mind. This is probably our last dose of spring-like weather and all the places I like on Facebook are posting the weather forecast and telling everyone to get outside this weekend before we all have to retreat back into our air-conditioned sanctuaries. I used to have Northerners ask what Floridians do during the summer and I was like, "What do you do in the winter?" You stay inside where you can control the weather! Well, we also have the option of going to the beach or the pool so maybe we win that one. Rolling on the floor laughing

The butterflies agreed that it was a nice day, too. I've got mad amounts of Gulf Frits outside. I think I forgot to mention I saw one of them at Selby yesterday. They're just so expected, I take them for granted. Today they were alternating basking on stuff and flying in crazy circles around each other. One of them looked like it might challenge the Zebra Longwing for rights to the passion vine, but the Zebra won that battle.

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I was picking Cudweed for the American Ladies and a Spicebush was nectaring on the Tassel Flower again. But this one looked like a female. I told her she better have laid me some eggs. And FYI, yes, I really do talk out loud to plants and butterflies. I have no shame left. I was even doing it at Selby.

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But there was no need to yell because I found three Spicebush eggs! Woo hoo! They tend to lay on the underside of the leaves so look underneath, folks.

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There were two Zebra Longwings in the butterfly garden. I think one was male because he made it pretty clear he was just there for the Jatropha. But the other one was obviously female because she kept laying eggs on my tiny P. lutea!

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I have a slightly larger P. lutea growing up the obelisk but it has a caterpillar on it and some eggs so I thought that would stop her, but no! She got that one, too! And to give you a perspective, that obelisk is about four feet tall. You know how fast just one caterpillar could eat that plant?

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Here's the Zebra Longwing cat that apparently is not a deterrent.

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So I'm still pulling Tropical Milkweed seedlings out of the butterfly garden and the lawn. The tallest was about three inches high but I still found a little cat on it. Good thing I did or he would have starved to death. I moved him to the Giant Milkweed where he now has a huge friend to munch along with.

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I couldn't manage to get a pic of the Monk Skipper that I liked so here's one just to prove it was there.

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I had to go inside to drop off my plants, and then make a second trip out to get Senna for the Orange-Barred Sulphurs. Since I knew eggs had been laid recently, I looked for caterpillars. And where do we look folks? Buds.

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Then, Mama Orange-Barred comes flying by. I was trying to get a halfway decent photo when she popped right in front of me and I hit the button as fast as I could. This is a dumb luck photo, folks.

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So I was picking food to bring in, trying to avoid anything with eggs on it which is harder than it sounds. I pulled some older leaves but I could see where they had been eaten. And they must have been eaten by a fairly large caterpillar judging from the amount eaten. I said, "I feel like there's a big one in here that I'm missing." And no sooner than the words were out of my mouth than I looked up and found him!

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I came back inside and was sorting everyone and found a bonus Sulphur on the leaves! Bonus caterpillars are the best. It's like, I'm not even trying and I can still find them! Rolling on the floor laughing

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I checked my Palamades today and boy has he gotten big. But I cold barely manage to open the lid on the container because he must have stinkhorned. I didn't see it, but I sure did smell it and they're as bad as their Spicebush cousins. You would think caterpillars that ate a plant that smells so good wouldn't smell as awful as they do. I wonder if they can smell it and does it bother them?
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Name: Philip
Ireland,.The Midlands. (Zone 8a)
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glengarry23
May 1, 2015 5:37 PM CST
During April and May we see the first of the Orange Tip Butterfly here and the day before yesterday i spotted one,..i was mad with myself as i had no camera with me not even my camera phone,..today in the same location i again spotted one this time i had my camera phone but had to creep up as there is no zoom,..below is the best i could produce.

Orange Tip,'Anthocharis cardamines'.

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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
May 1, 2015 8:47 PM CST

Moderator

Ooh, pretty! I wonder if one of its host plants are in the area you spotted it, Philip. I see that it's in the White family and eats crucifers. I prefer Brussels Sprouts, myself. Even as a kid. Hilarious! I always say butterflies will stay if you have their host plants. People think you can just plant a bunch of flowers and that's it, but building a good butterfly garden requires host plants! It's one reason I'm being bombarded by Gulf Fritillaries right now! Not that I'm complaining, but man, there's a lot of them.

I have a male Orange-Barred Sulphur butterfly that decided to come out while I was napping. I guess I better throw a towel over the container so he stays calm until tomorrow morning when I let him out. I admit, I've been bad mouthing the Sulphurs for not posing for pictures so I suppose I have to apologize since that female was very cooperative today. Well, not so much cooperative as at least giving me about a half second to take a shot. And it just happened to turn out pretty well, if I do say so myself.
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
May 2, 2015 8:44 PM CST

Moderator

Well, I said I was going to get out of the house and I did. I wasn't sure I would. I didn't get much sleep last night and I know I'm going to hit the wall soon, but it hasn't happened yet. Believe it or not, Melanie went to the Daylily show. Yes, those people I always poke fun at. It wasn't a big show but I took over 400 pictures! That includes plant tags, though. Then, since it was still early, I went to USF Botanical Gardens. I totally should have remembered that graduation was going on today since one my high school friends posted a picture of herself in her gown on Facebook this morning, but I forgot. Luckily, the gardens are on the edge of campus so I only had to navigate one intersection. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to understand what the red, octagonal sign meant.

But I started the morning by releasing a male Orange-Barred Sulphur. The one that came out last night. He stuck around for a few seconds, probably because it was in the 60's this morning. It felt soooo good.

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No butterflies at the Daylily show since it was inside, but there were plenty at USF. The only ones I couldn't get pictures of were the Buckeye, the Pipevine Swallowtail, and the White Peacock. I began my quest near the plant shop where a big pipevine grows. I looked for caterpillars and found some Polydamas Swallowtail cats. Then, I found a big one. There's always a big one. Rolling my eyes.

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There were a lot of Zebra Longwings around which was nice to see. Here's one on porterweed.

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This plant didn't have a tag so I'm going to post it over on the ID forum. Because this Giant ST was all over it. Therefore, I must know what it is.

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A Gulf Frit was chilling nearby.

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You can't go wrong with the red sage. This is a Spicebush all up in it.

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The Gulf Frit was all up in it, too.

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The wind was blowing this Cassius Blue around.

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This Phaeon Crescent was basking.

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I could only get a side view on this Eastern Black Swallowtail. I tried sneaking up on it and it flew away. I think my stealth mode function is out of order.

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This Monarch was trying to lay and egg but this annoying woman kept bothering her. Hilarious!

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A Polydamas held still! Shock!

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I saw a Monarch that I thought was basking but he was actually trying to get a little "some-some". I think I accidentally broke up the party. Or maybe the female wanted rescued? All I know is when I got closer, they broke apart and one of them flew around and hit me in the back. It was super weird.

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But this Monarch male was only interested in the geraniums.

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There were all these Willows near the retention pond so I went hunting for Viceroys. I only found this egg, but that's more than I've seen so far this year.

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I saw a Checkered White! Haven't seen many this year.

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Female Orange-Barred Sulphur on the non-native coral porterweed.

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Couldn't get a good photo of the Tropical Checkered Skipper so here's a bad one.

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I think it's funny when butterflies hang upside down. Zebra Longwing on Spanish Needles.

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Another Checkered White. And it's on Virginia Pepper Grass which is their host plant. You can see more of it in the bottom right corner.

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Back home, I drank copious amounts of fluids and then fed the cats. I checked the Spicebush again and found three more eggs including this rare double egging!

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Two of my three Spicebush cats molted today and turned green. They're more of an army green than bright green when they first molt to the green stage. I'm not sure why he's stinkhorning me, but he still didn't smell as bad as the Palamedes.

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And in case you didn't know or just haven't seen it in a while, the Spicebush inspired a Pokemon character. He evolves from Caterpie to Metapod to Butterfree. I LOVE that they kept the osmeterium.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
May 3, 2015 8:50 AM CST
I zoomed through the beauty in this thread in order to ask for help identifying this guy:

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I just saw another, too, on a similarly inedible surface: the plastic chair back!

I tried putting the first guy on various leaves to see if I could find a match, but, nope, not eating that stuff!

I'd love to be able to connect him with a foodsource if I can.....
Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
Blessed beyond all merit.
Lilies Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Container Gardener Butterflies
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TennesseeDave
May 3, 2015 1:14 PM CST
Not sure what this is. Too big for Eastern Comma. Color pattern a bit wrong for the Question Mark and from the profile shot I didn't see , or ?. Exhibits the same behavior as the two aforementioned. What do you guys think?
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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
May 3, 2015 1:27 PM CST

Moderator

Dave, looks like a Red Admiral to me. I'll be back when I'm done sneezing my soul out through my nose.
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
May 3, 2015 1:48 PM CST

Moderator

Kyla, if they've wandered off of plants, they may be in their wandering phase and looking for a good place to make a chrysalis. So they would be done eating, anyway. I don't recognize that as one of the butterfly cats, but maybe someone up your way can help out.

I'm going through tissues and Zyrtec at an alarming pace, but I still had to go fetch food for the critters. Outside, that Monk Skipper is still hanging around.

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Duskywings on the Spanish Needles. What else is new?

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Went looking for my Zebra Longwing cat on the P. lutea and found out it had a Gulf Frit friend. The Frit got moved because, as I showed you guys, that plant isn't big enough for the both of them! Zebra is the white cat, Frit is the orange.

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Had to pick some Spicebush and found another egg! What's even cooler is that I found an egg on the Sassafras, too!

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So many Gulf Frits.

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Zebra Longwings definitely have a preference for the native passifloras. They totally ignore my cultivar, 'Lavender Lady', but I can't keep them away from the P. lutea and P. suberosa. This one was checking out both but I got her picture on the latter. She's blurry because she was still flying when I took the shot.

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I saw some interesting butterflies on the edge of my neighbor's property but didn't want to wander over there for reasons we've previously talked about. What drew me over was I saw some kind of Sulphur. It was too big to be a Barred Sulphur and way too small to be an Orange-Barred. Normally, I would say it was a Sleepy Orange but it's way too early in the year for them. But this has been a weird year so what do I know? Anyway, I did manage to catch this Spicebush resting on the ground.

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My Monarchs are not doing so well out on the Giant Milkweed. I found a dead caterpillar, and then I saw this bug (which the nice folks on the Insect ID forum told me what it was a while ago but I can't remember) sucking the life out of a chrysalis. I stepped on both to put them out of their misery. Thumbs down

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
May 3, 2015 6:53 PM CST
Thanks for the reply, Melanie, I knew it was a long shot.
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
May 3, 2015 8:03 PM CST

Moderator

You can always submit photos to BAMONA at [url=www.butterfliesandmoths.org]www.butterfliesandmoths.org[/url] They're very good; if they can't identify it, I don't know who can! Your caterpillar reminds me of the Forest Tent Moth cats we've recently had although the colors are a bit different. I've heard they can vary or it might just be something in the same family.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
May 4, 2015 3:32 AM CST
Thanks, I'll bookmark that. Turned out this was a tent caterpillar! http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/eastern_tent_cater...
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
May 4, 2015 12:32 PM CST

Moderator

Well, I'm glad you found out what he was. Tent caterpillars aren't the most popular caterpillars but they certainly are populous!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
May 4, 2015 1:34 PM CST
I had read about them somewhere last year, that they do actually make a positive contribution -- pooping out all the leaf material they eat, turns it into excellent fertilizer! -- and only rarely become so numerous as to denude and kill trees (which is what everyone freaks out about a course.)

I thought the "snout moth" was kind of cute! Lovey dubby
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
May 8, 2015 3:21 AM CST

Moderator

I'm awake and I'm trying to decide if I should go back to sleep or just give in, go to Starbucks and do something useful today. I do need to get my allergy shot...

I've been asleep a lot lately; it's also time for my B12 shot. Yes, lots of needles in my life. Lots of caterpillars, too. The Spicebush keep visiting me and I'm not complaining. I was going to tell you all I have the three green caterpillars, and eighteen eggs. But one just hatched so now I have four cats and seventeen eggs. I think I'm going to take some to MOSI. My boss is feeling pretty down. You see, the guy that owns the Tampa Bay Lightning (the hockey team in the playoffs!) has been trying to revitalize downtown for a while. This is all well and good, I suppose, except two weeks ago he starts talking about moving MOSI downtown. And then in yesterday's paper it comes out that the Hillsborough County Commissioners (the county owns part of MOSI) want to use the land it sits on to possibly build a football stadium for USF (they currently play at the Buccaneers stadium). Now, you may wonder how one would move a butterfly garden, historic tree grove, back woods area, IMAX dome, zip lines and rope courses downtown. And the truth is, I have no idea. There's also the whole problem that people in Tampa don't actually go downtown unless they work there (like I used to) or have to go to court. So my boss is really bummed out and likely fearing the future of her job.

Maybe some Spicebush cats would cheer her up? Here's some eggs I found on Spicebush and Sassafras. So far only two eggs on Sassafras and the rest on Spicebush, if you're keeping count.

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My Zebra Longwing molted.

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It also has a smaller friend.

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My Palamedes got big, turned yellow (bad lighting in the picture) and made his chrysalis last night. Some idiot (me) dropped the container he was in and it pulled the silk away from the side. I tried taping him but he came loose when he made his chrysalis. I'm waiting for him to harden up and then I'm going to go in there and see what I can do. I've got an American Lady that didn't silk enough and is laying on the bottom of the container. I put lots of sticks in there for them to grab on to. That always helps. Okay, here's Palamedes.

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I'm still releasing lots of Orange-Barreds but most of them fly away before I get a picture. Thumbs down But this one cooperated and check it out - it's flexing its proboscis. Not only do butterflies have to harden their wings, but they have to fuse their proboscis. It's actually two tubes that fit together - I've heard people say it's like a zipper or velcro. So when a butterfly emerges they sit there and furl and unfurl their proboscis until it fuses. I always think it looks cool.

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My firebush is finally blooming so the Zebra Longwings are happy.

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I've got more Frits than I can shake a stick at. Although, the only stick I would shake at them would be the one attached to my butterfly net. And even then, it's more of a swooping motion. Hilarious!

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And I keep finding Orange-Barred Sulphur cats which is no surprise given the ones I keep releasing. Not complaining; I've got enough Senna for everyone.

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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
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flaflwrgrl
May 8, 2015 8:53 PM CST
That is too cool about their proboscis! I never knew that. You learn something new every day. I wonder why it isn't already fused when they emerge?
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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