Vanessas Start the Caterpillar Season!

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)April 20, 2013

I saw what looked like an American lady nest on some cudweed across the road the other day, but forgot to go back and check on it. So I checked today and got my first caterpillars of the season to raise on the porch -

Then I checked the false nettles in the main patch, and I found one red admiral nest after the other. Here's one -

I hope I found the red admirals before those parasitic wasps did! They're tiny, as are the American ladies, so, hopefully, they'll be okay.

Sherry

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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Exciting! I've been on the lookout for nests on the pussy toes. Haven't found any yet. Congrats on your finds.

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:38PM
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caterwallin

Sherry, Congratulations on your finds! It looks like your butterfly season is under way. Woo hoo!
Cathy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:26PM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

Sherry, thank you for sharing the excellent photos and congrats on the new baby cats. Now I'll know what to watch for if I'm fortunate to have nests this year.

I have cudweed blooming in pots I kept in the greenhouse and my false nettle has germinated very well, a few of the tiny little seedlings are even showing the first true leaves. Information on-line said the false nettle seedlings were slow growing until they reached about an inch high, then they took off. I'm so looking forward to seeing if I can attract red admirals this year.

Mary

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:47AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Mary, the false nettles have been growing more slowly than usual this year, undoubtedly because of the cold spring we've been having. Once it warms up to stay, your seedlings (and mine) will grow very quickly. If you don't allow your seedlings to dry out, they'll be fine until we get some warm weather.

I've always thought cudweed and false nettles were attractive plants, not beautiful and showy, but certainly not ugly! Every butterfly gardener needs a patch of them, separately, of course, since cudweed likes good drainage, can't tolerate flooding - cudweed doesn't grow anywhere in the bottom of the hollow here.

Thanks for the well wishes Sandy and Cathy! Now I'll go out and take the covering off the cages - these cats are so little, I thought any protection from the cold might help them.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:05AM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Love it! Still pretty chilly out here. And my pussytoes survived the winter. Will be getting more soon.

Hope they take their time getting up here--host plants aren't up yet.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Leafhead

Congrats on the Cats;)
My Pearly Everlasting is a couple inches tall now and my Pussytoes is visited nightly by rabbits...
Growing more of both from seeds.
Warmer weather finally, for a couple of days. Yay!
Hoping the Ladies drop by soon:)
My poor Nettles have just broken ground only to be snowed on.
I am trying False Nettle from seeds this year.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:40PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I can imagine that the cold weather in Wisconsin is getting REAL old by now, Leafhead!

I saw a red-spotted purple laying eggs on a wild black cherry close to the house, but she laid them up too high for me to reach. They usually lay a lot of them down low, though, so I'll be on the look out for them.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:45PM
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coolbutterfly(5A)

Leafhead, don't expect much from the false nettles if you started from seed.

Even with out warm spring last year, mine popped up late. I am going to see if I can take cuttings from them this fall...it was a shame to have so many RA's last year with no early season host plants.

The rain has cleared out most of our snow...looks like this is finally going to be the week we hit 60. :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Leafhead

Yay!! Maybe my Antennaria will look like the beauty posted:)
I still have a lot of U. dioica to keep the RA's going...
Will break down and buy FN online...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 4:33PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Caterpillars sure do grow fast! Two of the American ladies came outside the nest today to eat some new cudweed I brought them. I got their picture -

The red admirals are growing quickly, too, and, since they're still making new nests and poop is still showing up in the cages they're in, it appears I got them before the parasitic wasps did - YAY!!

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 2:59PM
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Leafhead

Beautiful Cats, Sherry...
I'm still patiently awaiting our Vanessas.
The Everlasting is up 3" or so and the Cudweed is really starting to happen.
My Stinging Nettles are an inch high or so as well.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 6:07AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Thanks, Leafhead! I sure hope it warms up in WI, and your host plants start growing fast!

I got this picture of one of the RA cats when I was cleaning and adding food to their cage. It's the cool season dark form -

When it's hot, the cats are reddish colored.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 4:10PM
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Leafhead

Nice. Looks like you have some nice Vanessas going.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:14PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Congrats on the start to your butterfly season! Wow those caterpillars are weird looking. Who would think they would become beautiful butterflies?!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:08PM
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moonwolf_gw

I saw my first two Swallowtails today. One was most definitely an Eastern Tiger, and the other was either a black form of the Eastern Tiger, Spicebush or Pipevine Swallowtail. I take it as a sign that either good fortune is headed my way or that someone is thinking of me. :-)

Brad AKA Moonwolf

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Leafhead

Saw my first Vanessas yesterday morning, American Ladies on my Cudweed and Everlasting. Yay!! Spring is here:)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 2:12AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've released 14 red admirals so far, with more chrysalides to go, plus a good many American ladies, I haven't counted them - there are still 4 more AL chrsyalides. I've also released ?9 or 10 sleepy oranges. Here's a picture of an American lady I released a little while ago after she (I always want to call American ladies she!) rested on the wild black cherry tree by the porch. My camera has trouble handling all this noon day sun -

I've got two red-spotted purples that have suddenly gone from being ridiculously tiny to looking like real caterpillars, though small. It's been my experience that their size increases very quickly now. Maybe I can get a picture of them later on.

I still haven't gotten any pipevine swallowtail eggs, and I haven't seen a spicebush swallowtail in months - no cats or eggs either. Same with palamedes swallowtails, although I saw a female laying an egg in the red bay in my front yard high up, so if I got on a very tall ladder, I might find a caterpillar.

Here's hoping the butterfly season improves - so far, it's not been a very good one.

Sherry

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Leafhead

It's been pretty lonely up here too, save for a few ALs and a lot of those Cabbage/Mustard Whites. No Red Admirals this year...
I did catch a glimpse of a large, dark butterfly as it was flying thru a parking lot at work. Could have been a swallowtail or a RSP, or maybe a Mourning Cloak.
Still holding my breath for the first Monarch.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 10:28AM
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coolbutterfly(5A)

We have had many downpours over the past week. Close to 5" of rain.

Definitely not good weather for butterflies but everything is VERY green and growing fast.

We're ready to host monarchs and painted ladies (the pussytoes and pearly everlasting could feed an army!)

I need to take cuttings of the false nettle for the RA's in fall. They come back very slowly up north and most of our RA's come early. This year, I haven't seen any RA's...just one mourning cloak. Tony

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 11:58AM
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Leafhead

I gave up on False Nettes and stayed c mu U. dioica. It's one of the earliest of the hosts and RAs are usually here early, esp after a mild winter.
I've got Milkweed up and ready for the Monarchs.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 3:03PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I tried stinging nettles several times, but they wouldn't grow here. Fortunately, the false nettles do well here, and they don't sting, either! It's too bad the false nettle wouldn't do for you in Wisconsin, Leafhead.

There are two more RAs in a cage, just emerged. They emerged late in the day, so they'll probably not be ready to go on this cloudy day - it rained some this morning.

Sherry

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 3:29PM
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Leafhead

You're definitely having a good year, Sherry...
I just discovered around ten or so 2nd and 3rd instar AL larvae on my Antennaria and Anaphalis. Their little nests are pretty unmistakable. I even caught a couple peeking their heads out in feasting mode. It's been cool here, so the predators aren't around quite yet. I'll bring a few in before the sun comes back out tomorrow. In the mean time, off to get some of that green floral foam...
I've never tried Vanessa, or yet, Antennaria in the rearing cage.
Maybe I'll take the ones on the Everlasting. That looks like it would hold up better in the foam.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 3:05PM
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