Buckeye Season is Here!

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)September 2, 2012

When I hauled some sticks off to my pickup pile on the main road this afternoon, I found one lone buckeye cat -

I brought the cat in to finish raising myself.

There aren't too many agalinis plants where I found the caterpillar, so I went up front and searched for some on the big stands of it there. 'Couldn't find another caterpillar, but I did see this -

I'm hoping she was a female laying eggs on the host plants!

I wish we had these beauties year round, but, in spite of planting host plants for them that they could use in the spring and summer, the cats usually only show up in Sept., Oct., and Nov. - I think I've found a few in August.

Oh well, I guess that's nature's way.

Sherry

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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

They're beautiful!
They use narrow leaf plantain as a host here, a weed that's a bit too plentiful in my yard and in our hayfield too.
I hadn't seen many Buckeyes this summer until the last couple days and now have about three dozen on my celosia, butterfly bush and verbena b.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 6:34PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Wow! That's a gorgeous picture, Christie! The hot pink of the celosia is eye popping!

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 7:44PM
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NaturesFolly(West MI 5)

I am seeing them in great numbers here in MI... pretty much all I am seeing right now.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:16AM
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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

Thank you Sherry - I love that celosia, the wasps do too though.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 6:07AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Wow - that's an eye popping photo, Christie! As colorful as the Buckeye is itself. I didn't know that butterflies would even use Celosia to nectar on. I've grown it occasionally, just for the sheer beauty of the plants, but never noticed it being utilized by butterflies.

Seems like every nectar plant that the butterflies like, the wasps do, too. Have you ever noticed how they "patrol" plants, especially host plants. They get down inside the dense foliage and crawl around the leaves looking for meat. Argh........

Wasps have been horrible in my garden this year, among many other predators. Wish I could figure out a non-toxic, non-risky (don't want to get stung) way to rid my garden of these cat junkies.

Susan

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 6:52AM
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minrose(4Mn)

thanks for posting this, I found this buckeye butterfly along with a mourning cloak butterfly, enjoying some watermelon in our garden yesterday, I was thinking that was a buckeye and now with your photos, it was confirmed. I have never seen one at our place before, it was quite exciting to see.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:26AM
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imabirdnut

Beautiful pictures!!!
I have planted several "buckeye host plants" & have never had any here...I have frogfruit that is native here, English Plantain, several kinds of Ruellias & Snake Herb(Dyschoriste linearis) but have never seen a single cat! I had seeds of Agalinis edwardsiana that I scattered but didn't get any to sprout that is also a host for them!
I usually see the butterflies a lot in the spring but Sherry...you have given me hope that I might still get some cats here this fall! Thanks!
Lila

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:19AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

This afternoon, I walked out of my daughter's school after delivering some sweetgum for some polys I have placed there. Saw a buckeye cat walking on the concrete. Took it inside, showed the principal, and told him that proved the school was a pro-Buckeyes school (boo Michigan). Put the cat in an aquarium with 2 poly cocoons where I figure it has picked out a spot for pupation by now. I'm fuzzy on whether it should eclose this year. The only time I've found buckeyes in the late summer, they had parasitoids so I have no point of reference.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:39PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

That's great, KC! I've been lucky enough to never have a buckeye that was parasitized, knock on wood!!!

My original buckeye cat pupated a while back, and I've since found three more. These three are full size now, so they'll probably be pupating tomorrow or the next day.

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:49PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

The original buckeye cat has emerged from its chrysalis. It flew into a holly tree by the porch, where I got its picture -

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 4:07PM
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NaturesFolly(West MI 5)

Hi Miss Sherry, I just found a buckeye cat on the concrete deck. I thought it was very late in the year for them and I cant find any info on how big they get before the pupa, the one I found is about 1.25 inches.. do you think it is close to the pupa? Thanks for any info you can share :)I do love that spotted face... too cute!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 4:55PM
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caterwallin

Nice pictures! I've been bringing in Buckeyes too lately and have over 20 now in containers. This is the second year that I've raised them inside. I got them on my snapdragons last year, so I made sure to plant them again this year and it worked! Last year and this year are the only two years that I've had Common Buckeye butterflies here in numbers.
Cathy

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 6:52PM
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caterwallin

Here are some more Buckeyes...

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 6:54PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Woohoo, Cathy! You've really got a lot of them!

Nature'sFolly, I've never measured them, but 1 1/4" doesn't sound like the last instar. I'm guessing they get 1 3/4" long, but they don't get fat. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe yours was wandering looking for a place to pupate, but if it were me, I'd offer it some food to eat, just in case. Do you have snapdragons in your garden? Does agalinis or plantain grow somewhere near you? Buckeyes eat a wide variety of plants, mostly in the snapdragon family, but also plantains and others.

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 7:19PM
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NaturesFolly(West MI 5)

The only thing I have for food is lots and lots of plantain, I put a couple of sticks and plenty of plantain leaves... the cat seems very interested in just crawling around, so my guess would be that it is ready to pupate. It is getting very close to much cooler temps here...how long would you say that they take to transform? Do they over winter? I have tried to research them but the info is scarce.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:23PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Once they pupate, it only takes about ?9-10 days before they emerge, no more than 2 weeks - they go from one stage to the other very quickly.

I can't ever remember overwintering a buckeye, and I've raised a good many of them late in fall, so I'm guessing they overwinter as adults.

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 2:02PM
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NaturesFolly(West MI 5)

The cat is in the J now, just waiting for it to pupate. Thanks for the info. Hopefully the days in the 60 degree temps will be ok when it emerges.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 4:36PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

A friend of mine called me Friday and told me about a field where I might be able to find some buckeye cats since she had found some there. Drove out today, spent 45 minutes looking, and came up with 3. Not many but 3 more than I had.

Field was not very big but I was impressed because it had at least 9 species of butterflies flitting about (but no buckeyes). My son was waving a net around to catch jumping grasshoppers for his praying mantis. He caught a mating pair of clouded sulphurs by accident (they were released).

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 11:02PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Like you say, three buckeye cats is better than none, KC! How are they doing? What are they eating?

The rest of mine have emerged. I got this picture of one nectaring on some mistflower, one of my better close-up pictures -

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 4:30PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

So pretty! Buckeyes have the prettiest colors. I had one this morning nectaring on the mistflower. They sure do like purple flowers.

Susan

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 5:07PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Sherry,
Two made chrysalises soon after I brought them home. Unfortunately, I did not remove the chrysalises from the container (these days, I put most of my chrysalises in butterfly pavilions I have hanging from my ceiling). A few days later, I knocked the container over and it fell to the floor. One chrysalis broke open. :( The other still seems fine.

The third cat is eating plantain. I was giving it thinner leaf stuff from my neighbor's yard. Then I found a small patch of circle leaf variety in my yard and it seems to prefer that.

The weather has gotten colder here quickly. Got down to 34 degrees yesterday. If the buckeyes do go south for the winter, I don't think they are going to make it this year. This time last year, I had a bunch of monarch cats. This year: none. Makes me think the monarchs knew winter was coming earlier this year. OTOH, I still have a bunch of GST cats left. If it were not for my potted wafer ash trees, I'd be out of food already because the tree in the ground dropped all its leaves maybe 5 days ago. The really sad part is the GSTs stopped by in the last week to lay more eggs. Would not surprise me if Ohio has a "regular" winter this year, we will not be seeing buckeyes, GSTs, and a host of other butterflies next year that we have been seeing the past few years.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 7:48AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

If they survive to pupate, the GSTs, of course, will overwinter as chrysalises. I think most all of the Swallowtails will.

The only time I ever got Buckeye cats was when I grew Diascia among the plantains. I have 2 species of Plantago, e.g., P. lanceolata and P. major. The P. major has a larger, wider leaf that is kind of spoon-shaped, smaller at the base where the petiole connects to the stem, and wider and rounder at the tip. Also called Dooryard Plantain. P.lanceolata is commonly called Ribbed Plantain. I think that P. major has a more tender leaf.

Diascia is in the Scrophulariaceae family like Snapdragons. It is a short-lived perennial that likes cooler weather like the Snaps, but it will tolerate heat better then Snaps if keep watered and a bit shaded. Very pretty little plant, one of the first to bloom in spring, sporadically over summer, and then another flush in fall. Only lives about 2-3 years.

I've been told that Buckeyes love the shorter Snapdragons as larval host plants, too.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Dooryard Plantain aka Plantago major

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 8:49AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I bought two seed packets of dwarf snapdragons for the buckeyes this year but the seeds never got planted. :( The plants I had from previous years did not come back this year.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:44AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Plantain seems to be the main host plant for buckeyes in most areas, but here they use the agalinis, which is blooming now and looking pretty on the roadsides - the flowers look like snapdragons, which figures, since it's in the snapdragon family of plants.

We've already had fronts go through here, too, with temps in the low 60's at night, so I think you're right, KC, this winter will be more typical. It's still warm to hot in the day here, though, so my cats are growing at the normal pace.

The monarch cats are growing like weeds!

Sherry

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:49AM
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NaturesFolly(West MI 5)

Found another Buckeye cat yesterday and it is in the J.. found a chrysalis hanging on my garden tool chest also. Still waiting for the first butterfly to eclose, it fell from the top of the container and the skin never fell off so we will see what happens.10 days and counting.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 6:55AM
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