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Old 08-14-2011, 12:20 PM   #11
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Lib and Jack,
Very cool about your swallowtail caterpillars! It is difficult to tell the difference between 4th and 5th instars unless you've been rearing them and counting how many times they molt. Caterpillars can vary in size, just like people and other animals. Color can vary, too. I sometimes have larvae with mostly black, others with mostly lighter colors. I wonder if the host plant can have something to do with that, but I've had dark phase and light phase on the same plant!

Jack, have you tried again with the monarchs? Here in south Jersey there are eggs everywhere! I haven't looked today because of the rain, but as soon as it dries out, I will be out again!
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:22 PM   #12
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Just a cute little tidbit...when a caterpillar goes wandering off to make its chrysalis, we say it is going on a 'walk-about'. Sometimes they end up in the strangest places and often very far from the host plants!
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:13 PM   #13
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Just a cute little tidbit...when a caterpillar goes wandering off to make its chrysalis, we say it is going on a 'walk-about'. Sometimes they end up in the strangest places and often very far from the host plants!
I didn't know that, and hence I missed the metamorphosis of both the monarch and the black swallowtail. Actually, I would have brought the latter into the house but there wasn't enough dill to do it confidently. I really found that caterpillar to be gorgeous. Such a great shade of green!!

Yes, I will try again with the monarchs, as they are all over the yard this year. I had a visitor here the other day and she picked out a cat on a smaller plant I had just transplanted there a few weeks ago. Maybe this time I'll bring in one that has already hatched from the egg???

On the high numbers of monarchs here, it's rather ironic that in a year when the concern for them was so great, I'm seeing more than ever before. Of course, I'm sure part of this is that I have planted more and more Asclepias and then moved volunteers to key spots to start new plants, some of which are now flowering in their first year.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:32 AM   #14
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Hmmm.... if both of our cats went for their "walk-about" maybe we both had 5th instars and didn't know it>>>?
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:40 PM   #15
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Good Morning Butterfly Experts.....

I enjoy birds, bees, bugs and bears but was never lucky enough to have a teacher like Bridget1964 when I was in school. Hence I know very little about the butterfly lifecycle, or ID'ing butterflies, or which caterpillars turn into which types of butterflies.

Not wanting to be left out of all that butterfly fun, a kind person from our WildlifeGardeners forum sent me some asclepias tuberosa seeds. I got them started this spring.

Milkweed (Ascelpias Tuberosa) Seedlings
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5606.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5607.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5608.jpg

I was waiting for the heat wave to let up before I planted my young milkweed seedlings in the ground. And then it happened!!! Cats!!! Caterpillars all over my seedlings. OMG!!! I was trying to tell them that my caterpillar nusery wasn't quite ready yet. They were too busy eating to listen to me.

Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5839.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5855.jpg
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:56 PM   #16
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So I counted the caterpillars, 24. Hmmm??? Is that a lot? Are these monarch caterpillars?
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5856.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5876.jpg

Looks like my milkweed seedlings are not going to feed 24 crunching munching eating machines. The seedlings were stripped bare in less than 24 hours. I can't believe I got up twice during the night to go and check on them!
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5908.jpg

Worried about caterpillar starvation, I jumped on my 4-wheeler and went on a milkweed hunt. I found some plain old milkweed and stuffed it in a coffee can of water. Then I gently transferred the cats to the new plants one by one. All 24 of them. Feeling giddy and giggly about this entire episode, I pulled up a lawn chair and watched the caterpillar creatures move about and devour their new milkweed plants.
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5911.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5944.jpg
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:13 PM   #17
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OH NO! A predator??? Would this spider eat these caterpillars? What kind of spider is this? I made an executive decision and clipped off the plant segment the spider was located on and and moved it to the wood pile. Crisis averted.
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5901.jpg

So what else do I need to do keep these cats happy? Fresh Milkweed daily? Should I have put them inside something?

Are these really monarch cats? I've only seen a handful of monarchs butterflies in my area during the six years that I've lived here. I NEVER seen a monarch caterpillar here, and this is the first time ever in my life that I've seen a monarch caterpillar live, up close, and in person. I would really like to see the monarchs muliply here.
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5939.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5948.jpg Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5950.jpg

And the most important question of all.... Will my asclepias tuberosa seedlings in their starter cups recover? They're nothing but stems right now. Should I still plant them out or should I start over with seeds?
Getting started on raising caterpillars-img_5839.jpg

Ok, butterfly experts, help me out here ok? Thanks.
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:25 AM   #18
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BooBoo! Congratulations!

Wow! I'd say that is a lot--well, I only had two last year, and this year none...yet.

I am not a butterfly expert, but they look like monarch caterpillars to me. I'm glad the transfer to the common milkweed was sucessful. You are doing a great job...and a great job of documenting and sharing your experience. Your excitement is contagious.

I would think that your seedlings can recover. I'm guessing they will send out new leaves, but this likely stunted their growth for a while until they recover. I'd like to hear what others have to say about this. I've yet to plant out any of the seedlings I planted this year (A. tuberosa among them)...I do prefer to have them in the ground as opposed to pots...but you may want to pamper them until they've recovered, and then plant them.

Great photos and great posts, thanks fpr sharing.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by BooBooBearBecky View Post
Good Morning Butterfly Experts.....

I enjoy birds, bees, bugs and bears but was never lucky enough to have a teacher like Bridget1964 when I was in school. Hence I know very little about the butterfly lifecycle, or ID'ing butterflies, or which caterpillars turn into which types of butterflies.

Not wanting to be left out of all that butterfly fun, a kind person from our WildlifeGardeners forum sent me some asclepias tuberosa seeds. I got them started this spring.


I was waiting for the heat wave to let up before I planted my young milkweed seedlings in the ground. And then it happened!!! Cats!!! Caterpillars all over my seedlings. OMG!!! I was trying to tell them that my caterpillar nusery wasn't quite ready yet. They were too busy eating to listen to me.

Attachment 25764 Attachment 25765
Becky,
I need to get on WG more often than I do--congrats on all the monarch caterpillars! Holy moly!!

I am sure by now most of those fat 5th instar cats have gone on a 'walk about' and have formed their beautiful jade chrysalises all over the place. I hope you were able to take some inside so you can watch the metamorphosis for yourself.

I always tell people, if you plant it, they will come. I am so glad you planted the milkweed! It will recover, but I do recommend you get it in the ground this year. I do have many kinds of milkweeds in pots and they are able to overwinter, but they are in big, deep pots and I put them against a fence, covered with leaves.

ps. Thanks for the sweet words. I try to be a good teacher, but it is often difficult. I just want my kids to be kind to the Earth, ya know?
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Last edited by bridget1964; 08-24-2011 at 11:36 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BooBooBearBecky View Post
I can't believe I got up twice during the night to go and check on them!
Yup, sounds familiar!




Quote:
Originally Posted by BooBooBearBecky View Post
Worried about caterpillar starvation, I jumped on my 4-wheeler and went on a milkweed hunt. I found some plain old milkweed and stuffed it in a coffee can of water. Then I gently transferred the cats to the new plants one by one. All 24 of them.
You are well on your way to being a butterfly expert! Good thinking to go and find common milkweed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BooBooBearBecky View Post
Feeling giddy and giggly about this entire episode, I pulled up a lawn chair and watched the caterpillar creatures move about and devour their new milkweed plants.
If you are vewy, vewy qwiet, you can hear them chewing!
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asclepias, black swallowtail, butterflies, butterfly, caterpillar, caterpillars, chrysalis, dill, egg, hatch, instars, instart, milkweed, monarch, raising, started, swallowtail, tuberosa

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