Question Mark Eggs (finally!)

bernergrrl(z5 IL)May 29, 2011

Hi everyone, This afternoon, a female QM was flitting around in the garden, and I got to watch her lay some eggs (been for a few years for this to happen!). She laid some in weird places, such as on an agastache foeniculum, maybe a rudbeckia, and on a shriveled up sheep sorrel leaf. I did find a few stacked eggs on a hops leaf.

My question is how do I keep the hops leaf alive--will they keep like other plants in a water set-up (like milkweed cuttings, etc)? What should I do about the one on the sorrel? Try to move the egg? Keep an eye on it, and when it hatches,place it on a hops leaf (I'd just lay the sorrel stem over the hops)?

I've never raised anything from an egg, so I'm a little nervous about keeping the plants alive until they hatch. I have ants all over the place in the backyard though, so I don't think too many eggs will make it to caterpillar stage outside.

Any advice will be appreciated. Here are some pics:

Egg on the sheep sorrel leaf:

She was getting really close to me too:

Just for fun--got a couple of pics of her in flight--here's one:

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Bernergrrl, hops vines stay fresh in water for a long time, but I usually let the eggs hatch on the vines before bringing them in, so the leaves won't have to stay off the vine, in water, for so long. If your ant situation is such that you think they'll take the eggs, then go ahead and cut off the leaf or a section of the vine with the leaf on it and bring it in to keep safe. You could bring in some on the leaves and leave some outside to hatch.
QMs are terrible about laying eggs on plants next to the host plant or even structures, like the fence the vine grows on. You could cut the section of the agastache and/or rudbeckia with the egg on it and lay it over a hops leaf - improvise however you can.
QMs are VERY easy to raise, so I don't think you'll have any trouble.
Congratulations, and those are great pictures!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 4:04PM
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Congrats on your eggs, Bernergirl! I love QMs and their eggs are sooooo cool! The "in-flight" photo is fantastic!

They are such beautiful butterflies. I think I may have some, too. I was checking the Elm leaves today - they prefer that here. I have yet to find any on my Hops vine, but they will also use Hackberry and False Nettle. I have all 4 of these host plants, so they pretty much have their pick of the patch, LOL!


    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 5:49PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Thanks so much MissSherry! I know she laid eggs in several places, but I can only find them in a few places, so I'll bring those in. She came back later and laid some more. I also hope she found the other two beds that are thick with hops where the ants are nearly as bad.

Do you know about how long it will take for the eggs to hatch?

I am just so pleased that we'll have some QMs to raise!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 6:17PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Thanks Susan! You sure take care of your butterflies! Someone gave me an elm sapling, but it' still in the pot. I think the elms don't live around here for too long? What about in your area? Are they mostly young trees?

Take care! :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 7:46PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I don't know how long the eggs take to hatch, Bernergrrl, because I usually don't see the eggs being laid, just find the young cats. But it should only take a few days, probably 3 days, no more than 5 days.
The cats grow quickly, pupate, and then emerge from the chrysalis quickly, so you don't have to wait too long for any phase of their life cycle.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 8:30PM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

I found success by putting the leaves in water pics and then putting those into the plastic Glad lunchmeat containers. Or Tupperware or Rubbermaid -- pick your brand.

I don't poke airholes in them; moisture stays inside that way, and the O2 / CO2 requirements seem to be minimal.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 9:06PM
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Congratulations! QMs are very easy to raise and are lovely caterpillars. No two seem quite the same. The chrysalises are lovely too and very noisy (they move a lot when disturbed and tap against the top of the container).

I usually take the leaf and put it on a paper towel in a sealed tupperware container. I don't put it in a pick or anything. I will put a drop or two of tap water on the paper towel. This usually keeps the leaves fresh enough till they hatch. Try the pick first but keep an eye on the little guys. I worry about losing one if the seal on the pick is not tight enough. That is why I don't use one if I can help it.

You can experiment with this method by taking various leaves in and putting them in tupperware (before eggs). So far as long as I keep the towel slightly moist, I haven't had a problem.

I hope you have a good supply of leaves. Elm works well too. I find unless your hops vine is fully grown it is not enough.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 2:34PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Got my first QM egg today. She laid a bunch but I found only the one I kept my eye on.

Brought in another 20+ RA cats. They are 2nd and 3rd instars.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 5:49PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Thanks everyone! I have quite a bit of hops; it has taken off in two of my gardens. So much so that I was going to start doing some pulling, but I'll hold off on that now. :)

She or another QM kept coming back for a few days; she must have liked our yard. The 5 or 6 eggs that I have in the house are turning dark, so I'm assuming the cats are ready to emerge soon. I kept them while the eggs were green on the plants they were laid on--kept them in a jar. Last night I put the leaves they were on and placed them on a piece of hops vine. I put the hops vine in a small tupperware with a paper towel on the bottom and dampened it where the cut stem was. It stayed fresh over night, so thanks for telling me about that method! Never used it before and was a little nervous. When the cats are bigger, I'll go to my regular set-up in a butterfly house.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 8:02AM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Got some pics of the eggs hatching and a new emerged caterpillar. They are tiny!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:53AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Fantastic pictures, Bernergrrl! You can see the details of the eggs and the cats, too!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:10AM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Thanks MissSherry! I was obsessively checking how they were doing, so I was able to get these pics. Never thought I would be able to--seen you and some others get pics of the young caterpillars. It's amazing to be able to see the head just ready to emerge, and to see the little caterpillar all bunched up in the egg. :)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 12:46PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

The QMs of the earlier pics are getting big:

Last night after I had washed off the new hops I was bringing in, I finally saw this, which I had totally missed when collecting the plants:

Then I found some more eggs on the undersides of some other leaves. It's so wonderful that I get to raise these guys before we move. And to top it off, the other butterfly I've been waiting for to come here the past few years, the Buckeye, showed up the other day possibly laying eggs on some kind of toadflax. Hope I can find some eggs. It was just nice to see the butterfly in reality.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 4:30PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Great pictures! 'Looks like they're about ready to make their chrysalis.
And congrats on the new eggs - the more the merrier!


    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 6:08PM
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