Overwintering Black Swallowtail Chrysalis

woodnative(6)September 22, 2010

Typically I find a couple of cats of BS on my parsley each summer and raise and release them with my kids. This summer we did not find any.....up until a few days ago (I am in NJ). Will this cat emerge from its chrysalis before winter or will it, as I assume, overwinter in the chrysalis?

If the latter, what is the best way to keep it over winter? Thanks!

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Hi there

Not sure about what your weather is like up there. Down here in Texas I typically get Giant Swallowtails emerging into early October (of course it is still low 90s here right now). What worked great for me last year for my overwintering chrysalids (GSTs) was to keep them in a pop up mesh container on my covered patio. If it got below freezing I would cover the container with a freeze cloth. They all did fine. I worried a lot about one of them eclosing if we had a freak warm day in, say, January, but that did not happen. I know your winters are a lot harsher up there, but I think they are OK in the wild so whatever you provide will probably be fine. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 9:25PM
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I have kept mine in a screened in porch and also in a garage. They do fine - doesn't really matter about temps...if they are native to an area, they are meant to survive whatever temps are normal for that area. In my case, as low as -10 with windchill.

Don't be tempted to keep them inside, even in your "cool" basement.. they WILL eclose at the worst possible time...like January...when there is no way for them to survive outdoors.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 9:41PM
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I'm also in NJ. They should overwinter; mine have normally mostly overwintered, but this year was the first year that quite a few pupated early on and eclosed within 2 weeks. I currently have 6 caterpillars and 5 should be pupating any day now. They'll overwinter in my screened cage on my deck, which is where I put my potted plants that the BSTs laid the eggs on. I will usually only cover it with a normal bed sheet once the bitter winds kick in, but other than that, I don't pamper them. I do have a piece of plexiglass on top, ventilated somewhat, just so that the screen doesn't cave in from the snow.

Last year I had a bunch of them that overwintered and eclosed in May and June. A few still haven't eclosed, but I'm thinking those darn parasites got to them and probably can't overwinter. I'm going to leave them be since someone here said a BST took something like 19 months to eclose. But I don't think I'll be that lucky...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 12:19PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

I've had them pupate in July and then not eclose until the following April. I did keep mine inside my garage over the winter. Those crazy Swallowtails. You never know with them.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 6:54AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I had about 15 BSTs pupate in the beginning of September. I figured most of them would be over-wintering with me, because it's starting to cool down quite a bit (although it's been in the 70s and 80s F this week). However, they have been eclosing like crazy, and there are only 2 left in chrysalises. Those 2 pupated earlier than most of the rest, and don't show any sign of eclosing yet. So maybe they will overwinter?

Perhaps they are eclosing because the aquarium tank stays in the kitchen most of the time, and it's much warmer at night inside the house than outside. Hopefully they will head towards southern New England or the coast!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 9:11AM
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fighting8r(10 Fort Myers Florida)

Funny how they are eclosing in Massachusetts, and in South Florida I have about 25 that pupated over a month ago. I've had one eclose here and there but mostly they are staying put. Even though it is 90+ degrees every day and 13 hours of daylight. You never know!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:00PM
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