No eggs on cassia alata- why???

siam_cannas(13)October 1, 2011

Hi everyone,

Ive got a small cassia alata plant growing in my garden, in a semi shaded area for about 1 year now. Ive seen different types of sulphurs passing through my garden sometimes, but ive never seen any cats or eggs on my cassia alata. why? Do sulphurs only lays eggs in sunny spots?

thanks for any help...


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Siam, I don't know if sun or shade makes a difference, but I've planted C. alata in the past, and the sulphurs ignored it. So when it didn't come back the next spring from the roots, I didn't replant it.
The Cassia/Senna sulphurs here like Christmas cassia/C. bicapsularis, and they especially love C. obtusifolia/sicklepod. C. obtusifolia is a weed here, grows in disturbed roadside areas and around pastures. I've planted it in my garden in the past and fertilized it, and it grows bigger than the 2'-3' size it grows to roadside. Since it's from Argentina and is so prolific, it probably grows as a weed in Trinidad and Tobago.
'Sorry you aren't getting any eggs!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 12:24PM
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Thanks miss Sherry,
i'll try another cassia then. Ive been wondering if i had it in the wrong place lol

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 3:47PM
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Last year was the first time for me to grow S. alata & I had Orange Barred sulphur eggs & cats...this year...nada! But it was November before I saw OBS's last year.
I haven't seen a single sulphur since early spring!
I have Sicklepod as well this year & nothing has touched it, yet!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 5:39PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

Because it produces ant juice at leaf stem junctions with stalk, and the ants do not content themselves with only the juice.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Four, good observation. Many if not all Cassias produce nectar from extrafloral (outside the flowers) nectaries. They are small bud looking structures on the stem. This attracts ants, which in turn protects the plants. I watch the ants on my Sennas (which have them too)and know that if I want to collect eggs, it is a race to beat them. I am not sure how butterfly eggs survive them because I usually find a caterpillar or two later. The relationship between the plants and ants is really interesting and is millions of years old. The great number of Sennas and Cassias is thought to be due to this relationship allowing so many of the different species of plants to survive. Other plants have them too including peaches and passionvine, though they may be located in other parts of the plant.

Interestingly, if you look very closely at a sulphur caterpillar, it is very bristly. Each bristle (or seta) looks like it has a drop of liquid at the end. The sulphurs produce chemicals that ward off ants. Most people when they start raising butterflies worry about birds. I worry about ants. My money is on them as the most efficient killer of butterflies (granted they are eggs and larva and don't even make it to adulthood).


    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 7:14PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

"relationship between the plants and ants.... allowing... plants to survive.... including... passionvine"

Passionvines (P. incarnata, var Incense) are what I grow in abundance. Ants ignore them. The behavior of Zebra Long Wing larvae is to strip them. Gulf Fritillary larvae, which usually only Swiss-cheese the leaves, strip by means of iterative Swiss-cheesing when no other passionvines are nearby.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 12:39AM
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four(9B (near 9a))

> Posted by bananasinohio
> I watch the ants on my Sennas

Elisabeth, perchance do you have species alata?
If so, then I will ask further

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 10:58AM
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You might want to try Partridge Pea - it does well in Missouri and attracts many Sulphurs.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 2:45PM
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