Viceroy Eggs!

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)September 18, 2013

I went out to the garden to check on things and saw a viceroy floating around - I haven't seen one in years! I checked the willow in the container and found four eggs just in one spot. I stepped back to get my camera out, and she came over and laid two more eggs! I haven't counted them all, because I didn't want to bother her. I'll count them later. This willow was badly chewed by red-spotted purples and other moth caterpillars, then it sprouted some new growth, but not much. So, I'm trying to decide if I'm going to raise these myself, and, if so, how am I going to keep willow fresh. Also, for all these eggs to grow to pupation size, it'll take more leaves than is on the little Webb's willow, so I'll have to scout out the nearest and best trees to take cuttings from. Decisions, decisions!

She is very dark and a little tattered -


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Oh, that is so neat that you have Viceroy eggs! I hope that you find a food source for them. I bet you're thrilled that you have Viceroys after not having seen them for awhile. I've only ever seen a Viceroy flying around here twice over the years and have never found any eggs on my black willow trees. I just planted them about 5 years ago so they're not very tall. Best of luck with the cats.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 4:43PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Thanks, Cathy - this is all very exciting for me!

I'll drive around and look for good willow tomorrow. I don't even have a cage available, since so many of them are full of pipevine swallowtail chrysalides. I could move the chrsyalides out of one cage, or just go ahead and raise them in a cage with the chrysalides there. Viceroy cats, like RSP cats, stay on the host plant, don't wander until they're ready to pupate, and many just pupate on the host plant, so they're not likely to bother the swallowtails. I don't like the idea of pipevine swallowtail meconium getting on the caterpillars, though - seems like anything from a pipevine swallowtail is strong, smells bad, and may be toxic.

I counted ten eggs, but there are probably more, I'm just sure of ten.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Before you said that the Pipevine Swallowtails could be toxic to the Viceroys, I was going to say that I'd raise them in the same cage as the chrysalides since it's less work than having to move chrysalides to empty out a cage. I think in light of what you said, though, I'd raise the Viceroys in their own cage rather than take the chance of possibly having the Viceroys get poisoned if you think that could happen. That thought hadn't even crossed my mind. Especially considering that the Viceroy mustn't be very common (at least for you and me, it seems), I'd do all I could to try to ensure their survival. I hope it doesn't turn out to be a lot of extra work for you, though, trying to locate willow and then I guess having to return there to get more later.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Another thing to consider with raising different species together: disease. What is harmless gut flora to one species is the Plague to another.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Post pixs of the cats you are so lucky I love them and this year they are way own but I cought two female viceroys back to my House and two weeks later I found a second or third instar and is know in a herinaculim( I'm am killing that word:) how do I over winter that do I keep it outside? Thanks for any info:)!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 9:37PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

The eggs have hatched. My camera wouldn't focus on the tiny little things well enough for a decent picture, but they look just like red-spotted purple hatchlings.

I checked out areas around here for a good supply of willow and found some. The best area is right next to the parking lot of a Family Dollar store - a creek flows next to it, and the branches hang over the parking lot. I took a long cutting from a branch, because before, I could keep willow fresh for a pretty long time doing that - short cuttings with thin stems droop very quickly. I remember in the past that I was surprised how early in the fall some RSPs made their hibernaculum, so I'll watch these little cats and see how they fare outside. Once they make their hibernculum, they'll likely be safe inside it. Regardless, they won't get off that original leaf until they get quite a bit bigger. If they get to that point, I'll bring them in to raise myself, because I've never seen a middle or late instar cat make a hibernaculum - if they get to that point, they go ahead and finish the cycle. Meanwhile, the willow is holding up very well in water in the container I put it in, in the cage I cleaned out for them, should they need it.

This Mama viceroy must have traveled a pretty long way, because I can't find any willows within 5 miles of here! Of course, there are wet areas around inaccessible ponds where she could have come from that I can't reach by car.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Congratulations, Sherry. It was a thrill to see her, I'm sure. They are rare here also. I see a lot of monarchs, but very rarely do I see Viceroys--just one this year.

Keep us posted on how the cats do.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 5:57AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Congrats on your Viceroy eggs, and glad to hear you found some willow near the Dollar Store! Guess you never know where you will find a little patch of nature...

I have only seen a Viceroy once around here - out hiking around, about 1/2 mile away in a low-lying area, where there are a lot of wetlands.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 4:43AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Well, I brought three of them in, all three on a little branch, which I cut down low in hopes of keeping it fresh for a long time. Hatchling viceroys and RSPs won't get off their original host plant leaf for a long time!

It was very warm yesterday, and the weather report shows continued 'very warm' weather, so I'm guessing these won't make a hibernaculum? We'll see.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:20AM
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