swallowtail cats

houstontexas123(z9a)November 21, 2010

hi, 1st time visiting this particular forum. since they were found on my orange trees, i had posted on the citrus forum.

black/yellow swallowtail

these two are the small, newer ones.

these two were the two older ones. seems like they crawled up the wall and onto the under side of the roof. turning into the pupa.

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Nice pictures - Papilio cresphontes.

If the "pupa" stay as in the prepupal "J" stage as in the pictures, they didn't fully form and are most likely dead.

Fully pupated...

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 4:33PM
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they just crawled up there either yesterday or today, cuz two days ago they were still on the orange tree when i was watering it, and they were both huge, like 3" long and 1/2" diameter. when i was taking the pics, the one in the 3rd pic was still moving its feet.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 5:35PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I can see the "sling" in the last picture, can't tell with the other one. It takes giant swallowtails/P. cresphontes a while to make the chrysalis/pupa.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 8:48PM
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these will be my 1st pupa experience outside of the butterfly exhibit. will they be ok over the winter? been very warm this fall. i planted my orange trees on the south wall of the house, the fence is about 5-6 feet from the house. the pupa's are higher up, kinda worried about them getting too cold later one in dec-jan.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 9:46PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

If it were me, I'd move them to a safe place where the weather won't rot them, and they can't be eaten by critters. I'd pick a place that stays cool and dark over the winter, that's readily accessible, so you'll see them when they first emerge, and you can release them at the proper time.
If you decide to move the chrysalis, here's how -
Wait at least several days after the chrysalis has formed to be sure it's hardened, then scratch around the base of it where the silk pad is. Carefully remove the silk pad, NOT the chrysalis - when you remove the silk pad, the chrysalis will come with it - if you try to remove just the chrysalis, you'll probably tear into it and cause a deadly leak.
I assume you don't have a butterfly cage, that is, mesh with a zipper over a frame, but you can easily make a place that will do. Get a container with a top of some type that's big enough for a large butterfly to flutter around in. You could use a big gumbo pot or something like that. Then put paper towels on the bottom, put the chrysalis on the bottom, then cover it with bridal type mesh, which you secure with a rubber band or clothes pins. Do you have an unheated closet in your house that you can visit frequently? Or an unheated room? Keep the container in there or outside on a screened porch or some other place where critters can't chew the mesh off and kill/eat the chrysalis. When the butterfly emerges, probably in early spring, probably in the morning, it'll need something to climb on to hang upside down on, so include sticks and other objects in the container that are rough enough that the butterfly can hold on. The giant swallowtails will then hang upside down for several hours until their wings are ready, then they'll start to practice flying by fluttering them. After they've done this for several hours, take the mesh off and release the butterflies outside.
If you're not willing to check on your chrysalides at least every other day, then please leave them outside. If they should emerge and stay in the container too long, they'll just die there - they need to be released outdoors.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 10:38PM
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#1 touched him with a small stick

#3 made a sling

#4 turned into a pupa

#5 found another one on the side of the window, i think i saw it yesterday but didnt realize what it was lol

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 2:15PM
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Glad they are fully pupating for you.

For future reference the "sling" is actually called the girdle, and the attachment point on the end of the abdomen is called the cremaster that attaches to the silk pad the larva spung for that purpose.

To add to what Sherry posted about removing pupa from their attachments, if there is a girdle present first snip it on both sides with scissors. The silk pad is best removed with sharp point tweezers right at the pad where the cremaster is attached, but the pad can also be gently scrapped loose with a finger nail.

Both help the imago escape from the pupal case, but many species eclose just fine without either attachment point. A good method for storing "loose" Papilio papae is on corregated cardboard that you've peeled away the paper on one side of, leaving rows of troughs to lay them in. Always place them right side up as the imago emerges from the back or top side of the pupae. A cartoonish picture I posted years ago for someone will better show it to you.

I've posted many times the techniques for winter storage of livestock that I used for over 4 decades. So I'll leave it to you to do a search if you want to read them.

The fleashy structures everted in your last pictures from probing with a stick are called osmeteria. They are used in defense and emit smelly chemicals to discourage would be predators.

I wish you good luck with your pupae.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 12:47AM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

I found out if you mist the chrysalis with water that the water will loosen the silk. I then just pull with a stick pin and the silk pad will come lose (pull the silk, not the chrysalis). If it does not come easily, just spray with more water. I then take a stick pin and weave it though the silk that is still attached to the chrysalis. I pin the chrysalis into a net container by weaving the stick pin through the netting, sharp point is always placed on the outside of the container.

Currently, I have a 5' container with a small cherry tree with red admirals, inside the 5' container I have placed a 2' container that has pinned chrysalis. This is on my porch under a beach umbrella. At some point, I will bring those containers into my garage for over wintering. We had so much snow last year that the containers did not hold up on the porch through the winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Overwintering Techniques by Todd Stout

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 9:49AM
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