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Old 08-17-2010, 08:33 PM   #11
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Native plants are food. They are the direct link between sunlight and protein. Non native plants feed nothing. They do provide oxygen and shade and shelter, but they soak up the limited resouces in the process without returning like value. Given two similar plants the only difference being native status, the native plant gives back more than it takes. I have to answer the native vs non-native question all the time. I do favor native plants over non-native plants because non-natives will not provide the conditions and environment that I want to provide. I suppose that is interference to an extent, but I look at it as a restoration of the balance of nature and not interference or favoritism.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:02 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tineckbone View Post
Native plants are food. They are the direct link between sunlight and protein. Non native plants feed nothing. They do provide oxygen and shade and shelter, but they soak up the limited resouces in the process without returning like value. Given two similar plants the only difference being native status, the native plant gives back more than it takes. I have to answer the native vs non-native question all the time. I do favor native plants over non-native plants because non-natives will not provide the conditions and environment that I want to provide. I suppose that is interference to an extent, but I look at it as a restoration of the balance of nature and not interference or favoritism.
You make an eloquent case for removing non-native plants and establishing native plant habitats. I carry your rational one step further. I make the same case for all native species, not just plants.

" I suppose that is interference to an extent, but I look at it as a restoration of the balance of nature and not interference or favoritism." is, in my humble opinion, the core of the analysis. Nature cannot get into a natural balancing mode until we give her all the parts to work with. We have so much work to do to undo the damage that we have done. And the damage that we continue to do - the neighbors that are still into chemlawns, the crop farmers that continue to increase their use of chemicals, people introducing invasive species, etc.

So short answer for your situation, I would protect the caterpillar and pupa until the mature butterfly was ready for release. That could be done in a rearing cage or in a protective enclosure on the host plant. If the protective enclosure on the host plant was feasible, that would be my first choice.

Just my $.02
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:11 AM   #13
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If I could find a way to remove the non-native insects and birds and what may soon be mammals, I would. I agree with you Cirsium, there is no way to completely or wholly restore the balance of nature unless we bring all parts back into balance.

The rearing cage/container that I am using is a temporary measure. I am leaning toward protecting the caterpillar until it becomes a butterfly and documenting the growth along the way.
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:57 AM   #14
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For some reason, I'm glad that you are leaning that way. I'd love to see the pictures you come up with.

I hope you didn't feel that I was attacking you with my questions...I think I lean the same way as you regarding non-interference...I'm sure I will face my own dilemmas in the future. You express your point of view very well which gives everyone who reads it food for thought.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:34 PM   #15
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For some reason, I'm glad that you are leaning that way. I'd love to see the pictures you come up with.

I hope you didn't feel that I was attacking you with my questions...I think I lean the same way as you regarding non-interference...I'm sure I will face my own dilemmas in the future. You express your point of view very well which gives everyone who reads it food for thought.

Not at all and thank you for the compliment.

I am still wrestling with it in my mind. The little critter is doing well, there was quite a bit of frass in the container this morning and he is visibly larger.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:00 PM   #16
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Not at all and thank you for the compliment.

I am still wrestling with it in my mind. The little critter is doing well, there was quite a bit of frass in the container this morning and he is visibly larger.
Good, I didn't think you'd take it the wrong way, just making sure. You are welcome--it is true.

I know it has to weigh on your mind...I'm glad you are enjoying the experience. I've never been able to observe caterpillar larvae until this year with the Monarch "cats"; it is remarkable how fast they double in size.

The other day I spotted another butterfly larva--looks a lot like the spicebush caterpillar's early instar stage--but with antennae like things. I went back today and he is twice the size...and I spotted a second one too! (The first pic is the second, smaller instar.) It is on my quaking aspen--here are some pics. An ID would be appreciated.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:04 PM   #17
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We're part of nature too. I think to the extent that we are actively promoting life, as a whole, in all its diversity, that's never bad. Indeed, the Native Americans did that by burning huge sections of countryside - and our plants adapted to that regime very well. By withdrawing human influence by ending those fires, we ended up making things worse for natural habitats in the 20th century.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:13 PM   #18
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The other day I spotted another butterfly larva--looks a lot like the spicebush caterpillar's early instar stage--but with antennae like things. I went back today and he is twice the size...and I spotted a second one too! (The first pic is the second, smaller instar.) It is on my quaking aspen--here are some pics. An ID would be appreciated.
Beautiful photos and great close ups, too! I am not very good at macro photography, but you obviously are!
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:17 PM   #19
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Dapjwy: I did a search with the Natural History Museum website that John shared yesterday. There are quite a lot of species that use quaking aspen as a host, so it will take me a while to google each name to see what caterpillar it is. Give me a few seconds...

HOSTS - The Hostplants and Caterpillars Database at the Natural History Museum
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:34 PM   #20
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EUREKA! Man, I almost broke out in a sweat trying to ID your critter. I am quite proud of myself, sifting through the 65 lepidoptera that use the quaking aspen as a host plant, but I finally found it! Scroll down to see a photo of the larva.

Red spotted purple
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