2012 Highlights (Photo Heavy)

molanic(Zone 5 IL)December 31, 2012

Just got done printing out my butterfly and moth yard checklist for next year. I realized it was a really good year for them even though the wacky weather and severe drought did a number on the garden. I saw the most variety ever and lots of new things this year. Not sure if it is just because I am paying more attention, all the extra lep beneficial plants I am trying to add, or a combo of both. My yard list was only started in 2011, but I have been actively watching leps for a few years.

New sightings this year.

Pipevine Swallowtail (just one sighting)
Giant Swallowtail (one in spring and one in fall)
Clouded Sulphur
Gray Hairstreak
American Snout (one brief sighting)
Great Spangled Fritillary (two days)
Red-spotted Purple (one brief sighting)
Vicery (one day)
Eastern Comma (a few sightings)
Mourning Cloak (first good sighting thanks to fruit feeder)
Sachem Skipper (amongst tons of Fiery, Pecks, and Tawney-edged Skippers)

Common Looper
Corn Earworm
Confused Haploa
Choristoneura fractivittana (no common name I think)
Genista Broom Moth (was decimating my false indigo)

I know... not any real exciting moths, but I am keeping track and submitting sightings anyways since the BAMONA moth listings for my county are almost non-existent. The Confused Haploa was kind of pretty though I think. Looked sort of like an inkblot test.

Totals for ones I raised and released.

Black Swallowtail - 3
Monarch - 55
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (overwintered) - 2
Clouded Sulphur - 2
American Lady - 44 (They totally wiped out my host plant supply.)

For next year I am still adding more host plants. I definitely am starting more for the American Ladies. I added a stand of false nettles this year that I hope gets some action next year. My big hope is to get some Tiger or Giant Swallowtails to lay eggs. I have two small wafer ash tree seedlings that I hope overwinter ok thanks to the wonderful caterwallin. I would love to just see the Giants again, even if I get no eggs. I would also love to see my first silkmoth, but no luck yet. The fruit feeder was a big hit with the Mourning Cloaks, Question Marks, and Red Admirals so that is going up again next year.

Here are some of my favorite pics from this year. Sorry if they are slow to load.

Late September Giant Swallowtail

Not So Common... Common Buckeye


Gray Hairstreak

Painted Lady

Summer Azure

Tiger Swallowtail

Confused Haploa Moth

Fiery Skipper

American Lady Release

Clouded Sulphur Release

Eastern Black Swallowtail

Great Spangled Fritillary

Mourning Cloak and Question Mark Loving Rotten Fruit

Overwintered Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Release

Mid-April Red Admiral

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Choristoneura fractivittana commonly referred to as Broken-banded Leafroller

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Great photos, thanks for sharing, it was nice to have them all idenified also!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 7:43AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Thanks for the common name Larry. I had gotten the pic id at the bamona website and they didn't have a common name listed so I didn't put it in my notes. Now that you mention it though I do think I got the common name from this forum already but hadn't written it down.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 4:44PM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

Beautiful images. Thank you so much for sharing!


    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Is my favorite pict.I like Cloaks so much,and they just will emerge suddenly
From the thicket that surrounds my yard and fly abt the clearing for a while,usually landing on a good spot to sun...then they are gone again.
I thought the rich darks of the butterfly against the Orange very pretty.
We have the AngleWings too,but they hang out in the Clearing more
Sitting abt on the tree trunks.
I will try to hang up a Orange,too.But I don't want to make a mistake.I
Tried to ferment A dish of fruit on the deck railing with a little beer(another fool told me to do it).I got a RS Purple drunk and got it caught by one of
Those big whiteface Hornets who also like to nectar,but also seem very
Quick to see(and pounce)on an advantage.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Outstanding photo images, Molanic! Yes, we have an influx this year of Red Admirals, Variegated Fritillaries, Mourning Cloaks, and Clouded Sulphurs in my area. The VFs decimated the Passiflora incarnata early on, but they grew back in time for the Gulf Fritillaries to arrive.

I have tons of Clouded Sulphurs, but didn't find any eggs or caterpillars. What did yours feed on? I have quite a bit of White Clover, and they were very late leaving this year. I saw them still mating in mid-December. I guess the eggs overwinter on the clover, or maybe they hatch and overwinter as tiny larvae. I don't know much about this butterfly since it is not commonly observed or hand-raised. I'm fascinated that you raised them!

Love, love, love that Haploa moths. I am in love with moths and have raised 13 different species of sphinx. One plant I always recommend to moth lovers, especially sphinx moth lovers, is Virginia Creeper. I have found Eumorpha achemon, Eumorpha pandorus, Virginia Creeper sphinx (Darapsa Myron), and Nessus sphinx (Amphion floridensis) all feeding on Virginia Creeper. In addition, the pretty little Eight-Spotted Forester moth uses it as a larval host. I haven't tried to raise the Forester because of its unique pupation requirements. The pupate in holes in old wood. I haven't quite figured out how I would provide that.

Do you know what the Haploa uses for larval food?

DD, you don't need to do anything fancy to feed the fruit-feeding butterflies, other than put out rotten or very ripe fruit. I have even had them to come to not-so-ripe fruit like watermelon. My butterflies are fed bananas. I buy the bags of overripe bananas, reduced in price by the grocer, and put them out in a suet feeder. I open up the skin and expose the interior fruit a bit, put in the feeder, and hang it up. I have had Mourning Cloaks, Hackberry and Tawny Emperors, Red Admirals, Red Spotted Purple (rare in my area), an occasional American Lady, and in early morning, at dawn, and evening, I have had tons of Nessus sphinx feeding on them, too. The Nessus is a day-flying moth, and they are just a little larger than the Snowberry Clearwing. They are very cute!


    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 11:11AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

What gorgeous pictures! Thanks for posting them!


    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 1:55PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I didn't even think to look up the host plant for the Confused Haploa Moth before. One site said they use Eupatorium and Willow, another said Hound's tongue (Cynoglossum officinale). I do have a lot of eupatoriums...joe pye weed, boneset, and late-flowering boneset. It was sitting on a hibiscus leaf right next to the late-flowering boneset. It sat there for quite a while, but I had never seen one prior to or since then. Couldn't find out if they normally fly in the day or not either.

Virginia creeper certainly looks like a great host plant to have. I will have to look into it.

As far as the fruit feeding I did... I don't know if anyone ate the citrus fruits or not. I just put out what ever scraps I had. They did seem to really like mushy bananas and pears best. I just kept fruit cores and scraps in the freezer until I needed them, which helped get them mushy. When I tried fermenting them at room temp in a closed container they just grew blue mold. In an open container they dried out too much waiting for them to mush. When I had smaller fruit bits I put them in a dish with some water and molasses to help keep them juicy which they really liked. I also had made some cantaloupe sorbet that did not go over well with humans... but the insects loved it. It all did attract some flies and wasps, but the butterflies didn't seem to mind and just pushed them away with their wings.

Raising the clouded sulphurs was pretty neat. I have some pictures of the caterpillar and chrysalis too so I think I will start a new thread to post them.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 3:46PM
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Beautiful pictures! Very informative.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:34PM
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