Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!
Rick in LA (lower Alabama) and I met on I-10 Sunday and made a lep swap. I gave him two red-spotted purple caterpillars (knowing that wild black cherry is everywhere) one RSP chrysalis, and some luna moth hatchlings (also knowing that sweetgum is everywhere)! In return Rick gave me what looks like an egg dump from a pipevine swallowtail. They had already started hatching when I got them, and MANY more have hatched today. There is another small cluster that hasn't yet hatched. At this point, I can't count how many there are, but 30-40 would be a conservative estimate! A few weeks ago I cut back the old, useless growth on some of my pipevines, so they have LOTS of new growth on them now. There was already new growth, plus some old growth, on some newer pipevines I have. This afternoon, I cut back some vines considerably that were nothing but old, useless leaves, not fit for any pipevine swallowtail to eat. i also cut back another small group of vines in another place. I'll be putting some low nitrogen fertilizer (Espoma) plus cow manure around the newly pruned vines to encourage more new growth.
Rick also threw in some gulf fritillary eggs! I've got some caterpillars now, but they're all about to pupate, and I have plenty of passionvines with lots of new growth on them, so I can easily feed these.
I found about six red-spotted purple eggs on a wild black cherry near my house, so I'll be monitoring them and bring them in as soon as they hatch, maybe before. The wild black cherry on my property has old leaves, very little new growth, but there are some stumps not too far from here on tornado damaged woods with much new growth that I'll use.
A pipevine swallowtail visited me in my garden today, but it was another male! My overwintered pipevine swallowtail chrysalides were all female, and now I can only get males! So, as you might imagine, I'm REAL happy to have these babies! They're at the 'ant' stage now, but they really grow quickly!
I feel lucky!