Red Admiral Cats!

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)April 29, 2010

The other day I noticed webbing in the tops of the false nettles, so I thought there were probably red admiral cats there, but I didn't see any leaf rolls, so I couldn't be sure they were RAs. False nettles are used by MANY different leps - there are presently some green inch worms using mine, also. I sure hope these haven't been parasitized by those #@!%$! wasps! I don't even think there's any point in me bringing these in to raise myself, since they apparently get parasitized as eggs - I hate to see those dreaded tiny white cocoons in the leaf rolls! If it weren't for them, I'd have red admirals flying everywhere!

Here's a picture of the leaf roll -


Aren't false nettles the most useful host plant? Question marks have used the ones in my garden.

I finally saw a female tiger swallowtail - she was basking in the sun on the north side of my house. 'I'll be looking for tiger eggs/cats, too.

Sherry

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nancy86

How interesting! I've got false nettle, and no one has used it for squat! Of course, I've only ever seen red admirals once.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 5:19PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Congrats on the Red Admiral caterpillars. I just love the little guys in their leaf nests. I hope they don't all get parasitized. Here the little froggies eat them before they have a chance to grow up. So, if I find a caterpillar, I bring it in to raise.

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:14PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Hang in there, Nancy, with the false nettles - mine weren't used by anything for a while either.
As far as I know, frogs don't eat them here, Sandy, even though we have plenty of frogs.
The Mama red admiral was flitting around the nettles, laying eggs around noon time today. She didn't stay in any one place long enough for me to get a good picture of her, but I did get this one -

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:28PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

A Red Admiral was skipping thru the FN today, and it appeared was ovipositing. She would enter the stand down low to the ground, too, and was in there for a minute. Kind of different, huh? Was she laying an egg on the internal foliage of the plant? I can't see the darned eggs for beans! So, I usually watch the stand closely, especially early morning before a lot of critters awaken, and when I see the tips woven together, I snatch them up then. I have not had problems with parasitic wasps - knock on wood! But I do see the big red ones touring the garden plants, weaving in and out of them "cat-stalking", and the little spiders that also make a nest in the FN foliage.

What is with those Tiger Swallowtail cats, MissSherry. Ever since the eggs hatched, the little cats have been virtually motionless on the leaves. One disappeared, so don't know what happened to it. But I cannot tell they are eating anything at all.

Susan

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:34PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Tiger swallowtails are pretty hard to raise - I've had a larger percentage of deaths with them than any other caterpillar, except, of course, for zebra swallowtails. They don't eat much at all relative to their size, and they're very inactive, hardly ever move. If you lose a few, that, unfortunately, seems to be par for the course.
It sounds to me like your RA is indeed laying eggs in your FN. My Mama RA stuck her body on the STEMS of all things, and I couldn't find them afterward - they're SO tiny, and the false nettles are so thick. When you see webbing on the very top leaves on a stem, that's probably a RA cat, and if makes a leaf roll, then it's a RA for sure. Congrats - I think you'll be seeing them!
Sherry

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:33PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I raised over 50 RAs last year, and it is much easier to wait until they hatch and form that little web on the tips of the top leaves. And.....guess what......I had a small pot of Aristolochia tomentosa sitting right by the False Nettle, and after the rain, the small vine had gotten somewhat tangled in the FN foliage. As I was unwinding it, I found a nest, so I now have my first RA for the season. Mama is still hanging around, so between yesterday's egg laying (and obviously a few days prior to that as well), I will have a few to raise.

Yippee!

Susan

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 2:09PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

Does anyone know if they like stinging nettles?

Deanna

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 4:01PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

RAs love stinging nettles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stinging Nettles thread

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 4:10PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

The problem is that "I" don't like Stinging Nettles. They feed readily on the False Nettle, and it is a much nicer plant than the SN. I brought in another cat yesterday and will hopefully have a few more. The female was hanging around again today, so she's not giving up her nettle patch yet.

Susan

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 5:44PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Just got my first RA cats of the year. Brought in 5 and when I went back out to look for more, there was a RA laying eggs. Figured I'd post while she finished her business.

KC

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 1:23PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I went outside and checked on the RA cats and found a dead one laying outside its nest with a bug of some sort eating it. This beautiful cat was probably third or fourth instar - disgusting! I said I wasn't going to raise them myself after going to so much trouble last year just to find that I had been raising a few RAs and a lot of parasitic wasps. But I can't just leave the rest of them out there to be victimized by other predators. I found 10 cats, all smaller than the poor dead one, and brought them in to raise. I opened the nests just enough to verify that there were no white cocoons or tiny dead cats instead of live RA cats in them, and I found NO cocoons or dead RAs, just live, healthy looking RAs - maybe squishing last year's cocoons helped?

I also saw the question mark laying eggs out there, so I'll probably wind up raising more QMs, too.

Sherry

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 3:01PM
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nancy86

So happy! I had a Red Admiral nectoring on some Lantana in my front yard tonight. I kept thinking to it, "There's some False Nettle in my backyard!" Of course, it could have been a male. I can't tell the difference.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 10:05PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I can't tell the difference, either, Nancy, unless one is obviously on the small side - a male - or obviously big - a female.
Sometimes it takes a long time for a given type of butterfly to use your host plants. Fortunately, false nettle is an attractive plant, at least to me, so even if it doesn't host RAs or QMs, it's still nice to look at.
I hope you get some eggs/cats! There's something about the color combination of red, black, blue and white in the adults that's so pretty!
Sherry

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 11:07PM
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cecropia(z5 Oh)

Last year there were literally just a few RA's but this year they are everywhere! Have only found a few eggs and cats so far,but am sure to find a lot more in the coming weeks.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:29AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Re: difference between male and female RAs. I think MissSherry is right. The females are significantly larger than the males. That's the only way I know to tell them apart.

I have brought in a few more nests. I think these little cats are so endearing the way they cuddle up inside the nest.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:51AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I have just two left of all the cats I got the first day. The rest had parasites. :( The cats I raised from eggs are doing fine.

KC

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 8:07PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

The abdomen of the females is also larger. In species that have similar patterns on the male and female. Check out the abdomens--larger because they contain eggs.

False nettles is used by Red Admirals, Commas, and Question Marks.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 8:18PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Yes, both RAs and QMs are laying eggs on my false nettles, and I'm raising them both on it.
'Good thing it's a prolific plant!
Sherry

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 8:59PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

I found my first RA eggs this evening. There are quite a few eggs, and I still need to look over some more plants. I brought the eggs in after reading about problems, so hope they hatch, and I successfully raise some BFs.

Sandy

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:03PM
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Elizabeth White

I'm so glad I just found this thread! I was weeding the other day and noticed a bunch of scary looking caterpillars that were black with big spines. Most of them were curled in little rolled leaves. They were all in a large patch of stinging nettles that I keep trying to eliminate from my garden without success. My 8-year-old son has been into caterpillars lately, so I put them in a 10-gallon fish tank with a mesh top. My 4-year-old daughter noted that the mesh top is too open, and the smallest caterpillars could escape, so I put a sheet of waxed paper (all I could think of!) between two metal mesh tops.

Now I did notice that some of the rolled leaves had a caterpillar and a white fuzzy thing in it. I had no idea what the white was, so I put those leaf rolls in the aquarium too. Ut oh.

If I remove any white fuzzy things, will the rest of the caterpillars be ok? Is it too late?

I can go home and squash white fuzzy things tonight, and perhaps I should go in search of more caterpillars too!

What do y'all think? Will at least a few caterpillars survive? My kids will be so disappointed if they all die!

Thanks so much!
Elizabeth

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 5:46PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've found a lot of little bitty white cocoons laying next to dead red admiral cats, but, fortunately, many of the ones I've brought in have not been parasitized, and I'm releasing RAs every few days now. Whenever I find the dreaded cocoons, I kill them with my pruning shears or my fingernails.
Today when I was cutting fresh false nettles for the caterpillars in one of my cages, I found an egg on a leaf, so I'm eager to see how that does - I haven't raised any from eggs at all this year. If this one turns out to be parasitized, then I have to assume the wasps inject their eggs directly into the eggs.
Anyway, hopefully, you'll find some healthy, thriving and growing red admiral cats in your nettle patch. Don't give up, they grow quickly and make a gorgeous butterfly - the coloring of a newly emerged red admiral is just beautiful!
Sherry

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 11:37PM
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Msrpaul(8bSC)

MissSherry...I've been getting them for 3 weeks now...and have so many I'm not even going to bring them in...I've got false nettle everywhere now...and they sure find it!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 7:38PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

That's great!
False nettle does spread, doesn't it? :)
Sherry

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 7:42PM
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Elizabeth White

Thanks so much!!

Sherry, how big is an egg?

My son and I went out and gathered about 15 more caterpillars, and we've got 4 chrysalises in the tank now!!

I think it is simply amazing to watch the little caterpillars grow and develop. I can't wait until we get a butterfly.

One more question: do the emerging butterflies need a branch or something to hang from when they emerge? Right now there are only nettles leaves on the bottom of the tank. The top of the tank is covered with a metal mesh top, so they could hang from that.

Thanks!!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 3:40PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I imagine the fish tank is slippery, so you need to prop some sticks up against the sides or put some other non-slippery thing in the aquarium with them that they can crawl up on. When butterflies first emerge, they need to hang upside down until their wings dry and fill out - they're wet and too heavy to be able to crawl up the sides of a fish tank.
RA eggs are green and TINY!! I found two on a sprig of false nettles that I brought in the to raise, they've hatched, and the hatchlings are SO tiny, I don't know how I managed to see them.
Sherry

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Dark_onyx1982(9)

I realize this is an old thread, but I am gonna take a shot in the dark and ask if anyone has an false nettle seeds or cuttings they would be willing to share. I will be happy to cover postage. I have had no luck finding it locally. This is my second year butterfly gardening. Last year was a huge success, so I am expanding to attract other species. Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 9:29PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

You can order them from a butterfly farm in Florida for a very reasonable price.
Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: False Nettles

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:11PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Late this evening when I passed by the big group of false nettles, I saw this caterpillar crawling right on top. I just had to get his picture, and, since I pinched off the leaf it was on, I had to bring it in to finish the larval stage. He/she curled up in a defensive posture -

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:53PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

I don't have any False Nettles in my yard Sherry, and I would sure love to have some. Do you know where I could find seed?~~Angie

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:17AM
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linda_tx8(8)

I grow Stinging Nettle myself. A friend once shared some with me and it's a fantastic herbal remedy...couldn't do without...I love the nettle tea mixed with other kinds of tea. Just requires a few precautions with the plants! Anyway, I have spotted a few nests on one plant, so I have RAs! I'll have to be careful with collecting pieces of plant for my tea for a while!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 2:06PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Did you get my e-mail, Angie?
Sherry

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:35PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Yes Sherry, I did, and thank you. I tried to reply to it, but got e-mail failure notices. So, I came here and sent you an e-mail through this site. Hopefully, you got it?~~Angie

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 7:45AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I haven't gotten your e-mail yet, Angie, even though I'm receiving other e-mails - weird! Hopefully, I'll eventually get it.
The cat in the picture wandered around late last evening, so I put a fresh branch of FN in the cage for it, and he ate an entire leaf (these are big leaves) then made another leaf roll. Pretty soon that one should be pupating, and the chrysalides should be emerging.
Sherry

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:09AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Angie, I changed my e-mail address to my other one.
Would you try it again?
Sherry

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:25PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

This is turning into a bad RA year. Out of my first 22 cats, 20 had parasites, so far. I think it was 2 flies and the rest were single wasps. Found all my cats at early 1st instar.

Still finding lots more RA cats but I keep pulling wasps pupae out of their container too. Very discouraging.

I have yet to see an RA laying eggs, which is the key to avoiding the parasite problem.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 11:45PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'm so sorry most of your red admirals have those despised cocoons, KC!! It's rare that you actually see them laying eggs, but I have seen it on a few occasions. Fortunately, the red admirals had a good year here, with very few parasitized - I released a lot of healthy RA butterflies. Unfortunately, I found those tiny white cocoons on some sulphurs, either sleepy oranges or cloudless sulphurs - 'didn't know 'til then that sulphurs could be parasitized by what appears to be the same little wasp.
My false nettles have gotten taller than me ( I'm 5'5") but I don't see any cats on them presently. I have seen a few red admirals, though, so I could possibly get more in the near future.
Sherry

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 9:00AM
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