Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)August 6, 2011

I've counted eight clusters of PVS eggs today, so there are at least that many. Some of the clusters are small, some are big. Here's one of them -

I brought in three small clusters I found on pipevine/A. tomentosa sprouts in the grass by the garden. I'll undoubtedly bring in more to raise. I'm somewhat concerned that my Mama butterfly has laid too many eggs for the food available. I put chicken manure around the base of the vines a few weeks ago, and with the good rains we've had lately, they made lots of new growth, including one small group of vines that I've had for years, but never have grown very big. They're finally making those big, thick stems that they make when they're growing vigorously and making plenty of new branches and leaves for those voracious caterpillars. I got this picture of my Mama pipevine swallowtail - she's worn-looking, having lost her tails and plenty of eggs, too!


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Oh boy! Maybe let mother nature take care of some of them? I haven't had a pipevine in my yard this year. So, I just brought some eggs home today from the arboretum to foster till they get a little bigger.

Do you like the tormentosa? I am thinking of getting one. I have macrophylla right now.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 5:18PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Yes, Elisabeth, the A. tomentosa does better for me than the A. macrophylla. It's spread all the way down two fences in my garden, plus sprouts come up outside the fence.
I think I'm probably just going to raise the ones from the eggs I've brought in, which is only about twenty-five. My self-raised cats have only been preyed on once, and that was by some big stink bugs that I haven't seen since. Mary in Arkansas lost some or all of hers to a parasitic wasp, but that's never happened here.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 7:29PM
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Sherry, do you have A. fimbriata? The mamas seem to lay their eggs on A.fimbriata first & then go the the tormentosas, here. The leaves of the fimbriata seem to be less tuff but you have to have a lot of it to keep up with the cats appetites! I would love to have A.macrophylla but have 2 healthy A.tormentosas as well as lots of little A.fimbriata plants.
I had a round of eggs & cats early this spring(outside) & just saw a male flitting around my yard this weekend...hoping he finds a lady & she comes back & gives me some eggs to raise, too!!!
Last year, I didn't have very good luck with bringing in the PVST cats...a lot of them died. I wonder if they need to be sprayed with water???...that is the only thing I could imagine that was different with them being outside & being in my boxes.
I have great success with BSTs, Monarchs, & Queens...just not PVSTs!
Thanks for sharing!!!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 10:05AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I don't know why you had problems raising pipevine swallowtails, imabirdnut - they've always been real easy for me, a very few hatchlings will die out of big batches, the rest all live and thrive, and I usually end up releasing large numbers of adults. I've never sprayed them with water, but then southeast MS is very humid, so maybe you need to in north TX?
I've never planted A. fimbriata, but from what others have said, it sounds a lot like A. serpentaria, small, but very attractive to the adults for egg-laying. I've only got one A. serpentaria plant left, as they don't live very long here, but the A. tomentosa grows great!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 10:25AM
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Miss Sherry, I appreciate your reply & do think we are a lot drier here especially now with 100+ temps for so long!!!
I would think A.fimbriata would be a great choice for you because in your zone & humidity...it would thrive & grow large!!! There is a nursery that has A.fimbriata growing all around a pond display & it has been there now for more than 3 years since I first started shopping there when I visit Dallas. It is almost as large as my A.tormentosas! It is very easy to start from seed & even when the cats eat it to the ground...it comes back from the root.
What do you use for your GSTs? Rue doesn't do well here because of the heat! I have a container key lime but so far...the GSTs have ignored it! I tried to grow wafer ash trees & bought 5 but they all died after surviving the winter...they leafed out & then shriveled! I know there is a native plant here some where that is a host because there are too many GSTs flying around!
Last year was a bumper crop for all the BFs here but this year...so far, they are very scarce!

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

You say the A. fimbriata at the nursery is almost as big as your tomentosas? My A. tomentosas are large vines, probably ?20'? in length, but would undoubtedly grow longer, except that I cut them back to 5'-6' (the height of the fence) in spring every year. I cut them back, because that causes them to make a lot of new growth, and that's what the Mama pipevine swallowtails are looking for - the old growth on A. tomentosa is so tough!
I was thinking about planting some A. fimbriata at the base of other larger plants, much like I grow common violets for the variegated frits. But if A. fimbriata is a big vine, I don't want it there, for sure!
The pipevine eggs have all hatched, and those cute little munchers are eating the new growth outside, plus about ?30 of them that I brought in to raise myself. I really enjoy these caterpillars!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 10:54AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I forgot to answer your question about giant swallowtail host plants. I have several wafer ashes, and that's the favorite of GSTs here. I had to cut nearly all the leaves off all of them to feed my GST cats this year, plus I used rue. They didn't lay any eggs on my orange or satsuma trees this year, so I didn't use citrus leaves. Two of my young rue plants died recently right after the heat wave we had in June, and another one has dead parts on it. I've got one rue plant that I've had for years that's still going strong. It's growing in the shade of a my Ellen's Blue butterfly bush and a rose bush, so I think they really need the shade. I'm thinking about replacing the dead rues with more wafer ash/Ptelea trifoliata. I had planted rue, because black swallowtails use it, too. So maybe I'll replace the dead rues with wafer ashes, and when they've attained some size, I'll plant some rue underneath them.
And maybe I'll plant some rue in the shade of other plants, like my big orange tree.
The leaves have all grown back on the wafer ashes, which is good. I've released 27 giant swallowtails so far, and there are a good many chrysalides left, so I'll probably be needing more GST host plants soon!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 11:16AM
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I'm not sure why my wafer ashes died but they did...I should have used more root stimulant or the moles ate their roots...maybe!???
Where did you get your wafer ash trees?
I have tried planting rue in many locations in my yard & it always starts to get large & then dies...I will try a completely shaded area the next time. I also just lost all of my parsley & bronze fennel because of the heat! I planted 2 kinds of Zizia seeds but none came up! I keep trying different host plants to see what will grow here & even bought 3 pussytoes at Lowes & have lost 2 of the 3! At least they have a year guarantee! ;o)

The A.fimbriata is a very well behaved ground cover vine that is very pretty as well as tender for the PVSTs! It doesn't grow like the A.tormentosas.

I am hoping that the Fall Plant Sale at Texas Discovery Gardens will have Hop Ash or Prickly Ash but it isn't on the list! I missed the Spring Sale!

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Discovery Gardens Plant Sale Info

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 2:07PM
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