Black Swallowtail Scent Horns there any hope?

Tony G(5a)September 30, 2012

Hi everyone,

I'm not what my problem is with raising BST's but my luck has been pretty bad...especially when you compare it to my monarch record!

I brought in one BST cat to raise and overwinter. I thought there was something wrong with it at first because it wasn't eating. But it seemed to recover nicely and was growing at a good rate.

But then it seemed to be "shaking" the other day, which I have never seen before. I am using parsley that was planted early in the season and it wasn't sprayed with anything...even if it had, it would have been fine by now. (I also rinse off all the parsley I bring in.)

It stopped gyrating and wasn't moving much so I thought it was dying.

Then today the poor thing had a massive BM. (I checked to make sure it wasn't a wasp chrysalis...and no, it wasn't the barf they excrete before pupating)

Now, its horns are stuck in the 'out' position. I sprayed him with water thinking it would possibly lubricate them, but to no avail.

Is my BST toast? Thanks in advance for any suggestions, Tony

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'd be shocked if it lives - so sorry, Tony! :(


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Tony G(5a)

Sherry, miraculously it has recovered! I'm wondering if it was having a problem shedding? It certainly wasn't visible to the naked eye and it looked like it was dying for days. It's horns are pretty much back inside except a little piece of one. It's eating and frassing normally and looks like it will pupate any time now...I'm cautiously optimistic.

38 of my 44 monarchs are on their way to Mexico. Unfortunately, I still have five more chrysalises and will need to keep those butterflies indoors for 4-5 days until there is a window they can safely fly south. I have only lost one and it was due to a tragic accident. A Good looking last batch! Tony

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:52PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

That's wonderful, Tony! It sounds like it molted out of trouble. :) Would you believe most of the black swallowtail chrysalides I've got from spring still haven't emerged? Their color is healthy looking, not at all too dark, so I feel sure they'll emerge eventually, but who knows when? I once had a black swallowtail that emerged after 18 months as a chrysalis, my record!

I'm amazed at how many monarchs you raise in Minnesota - must be lots of roadside milkweed there, which we don't have in the southern part of the state where I live, at least not much of it. If I didn't plant milkweed, I'd probably never see any monarch caterpillars.

Have you had a freeze up there yet? It's getting cool more quickly than usual here, going into the low 60's at night, but warm in the day time.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:36PM
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megan_anne(TX U.S. z8a)

Sherry, I still have a BST chrys from early 2011 that's still alive. I accidentally bumped the habitat and he flinched at me something fierce! It was like, "Hey, you! I'm trying to sleep here!" That chrys has now gone from "opaque" green to slightly translucent and I can just see some faint markings so maybe in the next day or two, he'll finally "find a job" and move away from home... :)


    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Tony G(5a)

The BST successfully pupated and is now out in the 3-season porch. I overwintered 5 BST's last year in the porch and they all hatched within a month in April-May.

Sherry and Megan, where do you keep your BST chrysalises?

Sherry, our first frost will either be tonight or tomorrow night. My last monarch hatched today so I have 4 males and 1 female looking to join the Mexican Fiesta down south. After a very warm September, we are unseasonably cold right now.

I have a small window to get them out Sunday-Monday. Otherwise I would have to keep them until Mid-October.

I have some potted nectar plants for them, and they also seem to like orange slices with a little gatorade poured over them. :)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 11:01PM
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tnu07mom(z8 SC)

I had a BST with its horns stuck earlier this year. It did not fair so well. That is the first time I have had that happen. I am raising my first Monarchs and loving it. A friend of mine and I started milkweed from seeds this year since it is hard to find the plants in upstate SC. A few weeks ago I found four cats on one of the plants and brought them inside. Three enclosed this weekend. One has been released. The other two enclosed later in the day yesterday and their wings were not quite dry enough for them to fly before it got too late. They are now back in the butterfly enclosure and will get some nectar since the forecast for today is rain and temps in the 60's. The last one should eclose tomorrow. The Monarchs have been all over the upstate of SC the last few days as they migrate. This is my favorite time of year! I also have about 20 BST on the rue and parsley outside that I will bring in this week to overwinter.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 8:44AM
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