Red-spotted purple cat?

jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)August 18, 2010

Can you tell from a picture if it is a red-spotted purple or a viceroy cat? My Caterpillars of Eastern North America book says that they are similar but the rsp is less spiny, th scolus on head and spine clusters are proportionately smaller and the round humps are larger and antlers slightly more clubbed than the viceroy. But since I haven't seen either, it's hard to make a comparison. I did find the cats on crabapple trees. Do I have to wait to see what comes out?

Here are the pictures that I have ...

As I found the first one on the crabapple tree ...

Looking like seahorses here ....

Strange chrysalis .....

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Based on the host plant alone, they almost have to be red-spotted purples. While red-spotted purples will sometimes use willow - they mostly use Prunus or Malus - viceroys almost never use anything other than willow. Plus, they've got the darker coloring that I've noticed is typical of RSPs.
Congrats on the cats and chrysalides - as usual, your pictures are stunning!
Sherry

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:30PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Thanks Sherry, that makes it easy then! My book says cherry,oak and poplar for the RSP's and willow,aspen and poplar for the viceroy so that wasn't helping me any. Is there a better resource for the host plants than the book that I am using?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:59PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

jeanner, your pictures are AMAZING!!! Wow! Some people might be repulsed by the appearance of this cat and its chrysalis, but I think it is just fascinating!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 7:27AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

They are a little bizarre looking! I'm still new at this so it's fun to see all the different cats.

And now there are three .... a third one has climbed the same stick and pupated ... with the same spacing as the other two.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 8:14AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Aspen doesn't even grow here, Jeanner, so I imagine your list was compiled by someone up north. My best book for host plants is Florida Butterfly Gardening by Minno&Minno, but then I'm in southeast MS, which used to be a part of west Florida, so that figures.
I've got a book, The Butterflies of West Virginia and Their Caterpillars, by Thomas J. Allen, that would be great for your area - great information and great pictures!
Sherry

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 10:17AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I found a RSP wandering on my Norway maple a few years ago and I finished raising it on those maple leaves.

My experience makes me want to do hostplant experiments with RSPs but I never have enough of their eggs to do that.

KC

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 10:58AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Thanks MissScherry I will see if I can find that book. There are some native aspens growing in Hocking Hills, Ohio but (unfortunately) I don't live there !

I just found these on Sunday and the last one pupated today, I found 5 in all. I'd like to find some smaller ones to raise - now that I know what to look for I will be keeping an eye out for more.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 1:47PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Wow.....what fantastic pics Jeanne!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 2:59PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Jeanne, red-spotted purples lay their eggs on the very end of the leaf, and the caterpillar makes a string out from the leaf. Here's a close-up picure of an egg -

And here are three very early instar cats, the way they look naturally -

Here's a close-up of an early instar cat, showing the saddle -

And here's a picture of a middle instar cat -

Sherry

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 4:36PM
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fairfieldcircle(6a)

Jeanne, Thank you for posting those great pics of your red-spotted purple.

We have had so many of these this summer (probably a dozen around today~~we put some old melon out and they loved it)we were wondering where they could be coming from...now at least we know what to look for and where to look.

We do have a few prunus and malus around so we should probably start looking there for the cats.

Thanks, everyone, for the pics and details.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 6:15PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Thanks for the shots of the little guys, now I will know what to look for.

Yes, they definitely like the melon and the bananas. This is my first year to put out fruit and I am amazed at how many different kinds of butterflies have come to it. I've got some peaches "cooking" that are almost ready to be served.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 9:40PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I'm not sure if you have to be a Facebook member or not to see this photo. Anyway, it is a comparison photo of viceroy and RSP that Edith at Shady Oak posted.

Here is a link that might be useful: Viceroy vs Red Spotted Purple

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:27AM
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