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Old 12-07-2009, 05:28 PM   #1
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Biologists find rare butterfly larvae in Maine

Biologists find rare butterfly larvae in Maine
By Clarke Canfield
Associated Press Writer / November 25, 2009

Biologists find rare butterfly larvae in Maine - Boston.com
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Quote:
A species of butterfly has been rediscovered in Maine 75 years after it was last reported seen in the state.
Quote:
About 120 butterfly species are native to Maine, but biologists have long wondered about the spicebush swallowtail...
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:19 PM   #2
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rborchelt (comment #2) had some interesting observations about the article.
Biologists find rare butterfly larvae in Maine - Boston.com
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:49 AM   #3
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I wouldn't have bothered reading the comments if you hadn't commented. Consider the source. You know... they could have been out surveying for chrysalis or butterflies emerging from a chrysalis. Are swallowtails one of the butterflies that have a distinctive chrysalis?
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Old 12-17-2009, 02:30 PM   #4
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Check out this site for pictures of the first green then brown pupa of the spicebush swallowtail.

spicebush swallowtail - Papilio troilus Linnaeus

The mistake about nest is also explained. Embarrassing that more research was not done but the biologist should have done more explaining about the life cycle of which he was searching for evidence. The writer would have a better understanding of what words worked better and how little the average reader (much like themself) would understand...gloria

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First instar larvae bend a leaf edge over and silk it down to make a leaf nest.
Older larvae spin a silk mat on a leaf that contracts to curl the two lateral leaf edges upward and together to form a leaf nest.
Larvae usually hide in the leaf nest during the daytime and to molt when birds and other predators are unlikely to see them. They come out to feed at night.
Sadly most people say cocoon for all pupa...gloria

Pupa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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It is important to differentiate between pupa, chrysalis and cocoon.
The pupa is the stage between the larva and adult stages.
The chrysalis is a butterfly pupa.
A cocoon is a silk case that moths, and sometimes other insects, spin around the pupa.
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Pupae may further be enclosed in other structures such as cocoons, nests or shells.
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Old 12-17-2009, 02:40 PM   #5
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Good pictures of lifecycle of spicebush swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail - Papilio troilus

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The caterpillars make nests of the leaves by spinning silk and curling the leaf up. They mostly hide in the nest in the daytime and come out at night to eat. Because of this it is more difficult to follow when they molt and keep track of which instar they are in. They make the nest by laying down silk on the leaf that they want to curl up. You can see them doing this, they start moving their heads back and forth while moving along the leaf. Eventually the silk dries and cause the leaf to curl/fold up. When younger the caterpillars tend to eat away part of the leaf and just fold over a flap of it. As they get bigger they fold over an entire leaf.
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:49 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the additional information on the Spicebush Swallowtail. The swallowtails are an interesting group of butterflies, and most of them can be attracted to a garden or yard with the right selection of host plant. The right host plant lets you enjoy every phase of their life cycle!
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:32 PM   #7
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I really hate to say it...but the adult spicebush swallowtails really love my Buddleia davidii, which is why I haven't gotten rid of it. I do dead-head it religiously, though.
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:09 AM   #8
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Someone mentioned the comment at the article
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This is why scientists fear to talk to reporters.

Spicebush swallowtails do not make cocoons, and no biologist would be out in September looking for swallowtail cocoons.

Nor do they have "nests" -- the caterpillars are solitary, and eggs are laid singly on the host plant (spicebush, mostly, but a number of other related plants).
This of course made me want to figure out how the writer could have avoided such a misunderstanding.
Being able to link to information would have helped readers understand what the article said. I don't know if the writer just used cocoon generically or if it was assumed that readers would.
I googled the article and every paper that ran the article used the same wording.
Not one linked to information in the online version.
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