Well I thought it might be a little late for a BST ELF, but lo and behold, I found at least a dozen eggs on my Fennel!! I plan on raising them, at least half, on carrots as my Fennel is going to seed.
Here we go again:-)
What a fabulous picture of black swallowtail eggs!
Congrats, congrats on getting them!
My Sister-in-law has eggs on her Fennel too.
Looks like I'll be busy again...
Boy, your fennel looks entirely different than mine. I may have bronze fennel. It's almost a gray green color, and the leaves are more branched and irregular. Mine isn't in enough sun, so hasn't flowered at all. I think I need to move it to a sunnier spot once our really hot weather is done. We're headed back into the 90s next week, which is our normal hot August weather. I'm so glad we rarely get much hotter than that.
We usually get eggs again this time of the year or later. They are the BST's that will overwinter. I am just now having my first group of BST's wander off the plant and look for their stick to shed their last skin. It's two months later than usual this summer. What a crazy year!
I'll take extra care of these guys as they will be overwintering. I look forward to seeing them next season:)
Crazy year indeed!! I didn't even SEE a BST until late June this year... I usually see my first BST in May. But then how the ELFs came!! I am just glad the wabbits didn't eat all my fennel.
I actually have so many young caterpillars on my fennel and parsley that I don't know what to do with them all. I am not in a position to raise them by hand right now, and I am afraid they will kill the fennel plant, which is still quite small. I thought for sure the birds and other predators would pick them off, but so far they seem to be thriving. I probably have an equal number distributed among my three parsley plants, with more eggs still to hatch.
I would welcome any suggestions.
I am seriously starting to feel like I have the only host plants in the entire county. :-)
Is there a nearby farmer's market where you can buy chem-free parsley? I have the same dilemma: over a dozen eggs distributed among five small Fennel plants, and Fennel's hard to come by this time of year. I'll have to borrow some from my sister-in-law's garden.
My parsley went to seed, and I plan to collect all the seed and wintersow several containers. I'll plant a big patch, or scatter it among my native wildflowers. I seem to have the perfect mix of sun and shade for parsley. My fennel, on the other hand, needs something it's not getting. I think I'll move it to more sun.
Congrats on all the BST eggs and cats.
Congrats on all your eggs Leafhead and Dr. Liz! Yes, your fennel is very different looking from the fennel I've grown too.
This may be a dumb question but what is a BST ELF?
You guys should grow some rue plants. Ruta graveolens is very easy to start from seed, is kind of pretty, has tons of foliage, and it's nearly evergreen through the winter it's so hardy. Doesn't die back in the heat either like Dill and fennel. Once they get established you will have no end of food for the cats.
Earlier in the season I collected some BST eggs on the fennel at a local nursery, and when the fennel ran out the cats were reluctant to switch to rue but they did eventually switch when they became larger cats and got hungry.
Ditto on the Rue. And once well established in ground, it is quite drought proof, a big help in my neck of the woods.
Besides hosting Black Swallowtails, it also hosts the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly so you get two for one. Rue regenerates quickly, too, so cutting off branches to use in the rearing cages doesn't seem to slow it down at all. New growth is quick to appear. Grows well in ground and in pots.
Rue plant with a freshly laid Giant Swallowtail egg ...
Would it grow well in Madison, WI?
I don't know what the growing range is but it would be easy to try one season as the seed germinates quickly.
On Dave's Garden, one of the reviews says it is hardy to zone 4 but I have no way to confirm. Some other sites say hardy to zone 6, others say hardy to zone 4.
Caution: some people can be sensitive to the plant but I've had no problems handling it. The cuttings I use to feed the butterflies will also root in the water.
I've also read some people living in warmer zones actually trim it into a hedge, as it can be an evergreen. In my zone, it remains green year round.
Thank you for the tip on the rue.. My BST "problem"Has been dealt with. I deported the little guys to some local Queen Anne's lace maybe they will survive. If I hadn't done that, I think none of them would've survived. The two largest ones I brought in to raise. Tomorrow I will go to the market and buy some organic parsley to supplement what I have. My own plants are pretty well shot. Here's a photo of what is left of my parsley.
I agree about the rue plant. It is the main thing I have used for my BST cats, at least until this year. This is the first year I have not had eggs on my rue or my neighbors rue. Of course, we have also had very few BST's around. The only eggs at have had were laid on the small parsley plant I had purchased as a back up to feed the BST cats I had. Still not sure how that butterfly managed to find that small plant in its sheltered area, but I know there were not any eggs on it when I bought it three weeks before,
Does anyone trim their rue plants back? Mine is looking a little rough this year and did not put out as many new leaves. It is 3 years old and in a large planter and I am going to transplant it into the ground. I am thinking of trimming it back when I do so, or at least in the early spring.
I trim mine back, not only when I cut off branches to use to feed the cats during the summer, but also in the spring.
This spring, following a good trim, I gave the in ground plants a spring feed and they have done beautifully this summer. As I mentioned earlier, Rue regenerates quickly. I even have some seedlings from last year in pots on my deck and I've trimmed these potted Rue, too. They quickly regenerate, just as the in ground plants have done. I've read that people have used Rue as a hedge, as it takes so well to being trimmed.
Ditto what Mary said. Here in a cold zone, it stays evergreen for part of the winter, but dies back and looks ratty by Spring. So this year I trimmed it back and it has regenerated into nice bushy little plants. I also trim lots of branches off when cutting food for cats. This year the plants flowered in the Spring and I've been collecting seed lately.
I've got seed on my exchange page, with many other butterfly plants, for SASBE, if anyone is interested.
I had trimmed my rue in previous years but didn't get around to it this year in the spring. It looked much nicer other years than it does this year. I have been trying to stay away from the rue because it's like poison ivy to me. So I wouldn't have to go near it, my husband cut off the seed heads for me two weeks ago. Did he ever get a terrible rash from it! He said it was the worst one he ever had. He had so many blisters and he was miserable with it for about a week and it's still really noticeable, although not really bothering him anymore. When he was at work soon after he got the rash, his boss noticed it (hard not to) and insisted that he go to the infirmary where he was given an antibiotic and prednisone. I have contemplated a few times about getting rid of it. I'm glad that the Giant Swallowtail that's been hanging around here prefers laying eggs on the gas plants rather than the rue. I love the looks of the rue foliage though.
Caterwallin, sorry to hear that you and your H both have an allergy to rue! Does it help if you wear gloves and long sleeves?
My plants were grown from the seed that you sent a few years back - and now I'm collecting seed from those. Fortunately, I haven't noticed any sensitivity to the foliage.
This post was edited by terrene on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 2:45
The eggs have hatched:) I have 13 happy healthy baby BST cats. I'm looking forward to seeing what the "Egg Fairy" left me at work...
Terrene, You're lucky you're not allergic to the rue. I'm glad to hear that you were able to grow it from the seed. I guess I really should put gloves on and wear a long-sleeved shirt when I go into the rue. It's just that it annoys me to work with gloves (just feel like I can't maneuver the way I want to), and it's been so hot to wear a long-sleeved shirt. I don't want to get another rash though so I guess I'll just roast. Ha. I don't think my husband will ever want to go near the rue again.
I have a tiny sprout of rue that I transplanted by accident when I moved. It didn't grow well this year because I think it needs more sun. When I grew it before, it reseeded generously and was very carefree. I just got some seeds from my sister, who has lots of Giant Swallowtails, and I'm sure I could get tons more as they ripen, if anyone wants them. They really are very easy to grow using the wintersowing method. I plan to grow multiple small pots of parsley, dill and rue so I can put them into whatever cage I'm using for raising cats. It will greatly simplify the process and provide fresher food for the cats.
Just a little update on my "Baker's Dozen" :-)
Here they are again at #3 instar...
here are some of my 4th instar cats...
Way to go, John! Are you able to keep up with their food supply? :-) The little stinkers can put away the food, can't they!
They sure can!! I've got them from Fennel to carrot leaves quite easily, though I'm sorry to say I lost a few over the last two days.
So far, the rest seem healthy and eating, but I'm down to just eight out of thirteen :-/ I also have some Parsley and QAL if food gets too low.
they are so cute:-), I have a rue plant from walmart, but we don't have BST in my area :D, bought it 2 months ago, and now its a huge bush\plant\foliage\ don't know what to do with it, but it does make a good ornamental plant :-)
Do you have Giant Swallowtails?
Those cats are darling, Leafhead!
I agree with all the favorable comments about rue. Mine never looks better than it does in winter and very early spring!
Thanks, sherry. More pix are on the way:)
Some happy new 5th instars...
And another view...
Beautiful photos of some gorgeous cats. I just love the BST cats. I have a tent full myself right now. Mine are itty bitty hatchlings. Congrats on your BST success!!! :o)
Thanx, Angie, and good luck c your hatchlings.
And here they are ready to crawl off at any time today or tonight...
And a dark form...
Looks great Leafhead! I've got 9 BST cats in the last container - they are a little behind yours, 3rd/4th instar mostly. I suspect that these will overwinter, along with the 8 or 9 chrysalises that are in the aquarium tank.
I haven't seen a single Monarch all summer, so had to be content with raising several dozen Papilio polyxenes this year. I really miss the Monarchs though.
Bummer about the Monarchs:( Maybe they'll return in the coming years when we restore their migration route. They all seemed to cluster in Missouri and OK this year c very little in the Midwest or up the coast. Florida has its own nonmigratory population, as does Hawaii.
We'll see what happens next year...
In the mean time, congrats on the BST cats and good luck.
Hope you see Monarchs next year.