American Ladies -- food needed quickly

jrcagle(z7 MD)May 31, 2010

This is a followup of sorts to Kelly's question.

I just planted Pussytoes in April. This morning, I found cat poop ... oooh, aahhh!. Then I noticed that I had nests ... and they are occupied! Eleven all told spread over six plants that are soon to be chewed to nubbins.

I need to get an alternate food supply soon, and transfer the cats over to the new plants.




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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Pearly Everlastings, Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) usually available at a nursery, Artemesias or Wormwood--these are a few I can think of quickly. They love Pearly Everlastings in my garden, and don't touch the Pussytoes.

I have actually bought Licorice plant with caterpillars on it, so it would be my second choice, with Pearly Everlastings as my first choice. PEs are kind of hard to find in nurseries.



    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 9:20AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Cudweed is everywhere down here - maybe it's up there?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 10:00AM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

OK, round 1.

First, here is one of the babies. Anyone have an idea which instar this might be?

I went out to our powerline cut-through in search of Cudweed. I found about twenty of them, I think. The ID was made easier because there were nests in some of them. :)

I potted four of them and am waiting for them to recover a bit.

The thing that bothers me is that Cudweed is said to have a "taproot" -- but I didn't find any taproots.

If the plants survive transplanting, the next move would be to transfer larva. Can I just cut the plant below the nest and put it in with the cudweed?

Thanks for the other suggestions, also. I'll put those in the backup plan queue.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 6:00PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've never found a taproot on cudweed, Jeff - it transplants pretty easily. It looks to me like you've got a good bit of leaf left on the plants the cats are already on, so I think you can wait a while before moving them. And yes, just cut below the nest. ALs down here love to not only use the fluffy part of the flowers for their nest, but to eat it, at least that's what it looks like they're doing - they seem to prefer flowers to leaves.
I can't tell for sure what instar your cat is in, because, since they're hidden in the nests, I don't ever get to see the whole life cycle, plus, for some reason, I can't tell the color of your cats. Are your cats red and black or black and green? If they're reddish, they're in their middling instars, and if they're green and black, they're in the last two instars.
Here's a picture of a small, early to middling instar, red and black AL cat -

And here's a picture of a late instar, black and green cat - the green never shows up in the photographs, but with the naked eye, it's a pretty shade of dark green -

ALs are a mess to raise, but they sure are pretty adults, the cats, too!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 7:27PM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

Thanks for the info and pictures, Sherry. The new potted plants -- they seem to be Everlasting G. obtusifolium? -- have three AL cats already on them.

I found several of the nests on my Pussytoes to be empty (couldn't find the big cat again -- perhaps I caught him looking for a pupation site?), but as an experiment I've transferred three youngish cats over to the new potted plants in a cage.

So we have six cats in a cage, and the rest are on their own.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 9:09PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

I am in such a pickle here. I found the only plant on which an AL butterfly laid her eggs. I have used up the few stalks of PE that I had (very small plants, pretty early here still), and I cannot find anything else.

I know where to look in my yard and along the roadsides. Nothing. I can find the dead plants frm last year, but there is no new growth to be found.

I'll try to find some licorice and the A. stellarina, but what do I do if I find nothing at the garden stores? Release them? I tried to put a hollyhock leaf out for them; no one is interested. Don't know if it's a valid food source or not--read on the web, and I can't find my caterpillar book.

Any other ideas? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 8:50PM
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