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Spicebush Swallowtails

Posted by misssherry Z8/9MS (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 31, 11 at 14:51

There's been a female spicebush swallowtail nectaring off and on in my garden for over a week, maybe two weeks? There's a sassafras stump close to the garden, with 9' or 10' of new growth sprouting from it. I didn't think she'd be able to pass up all that new growth up, and she didn't. Late yesterday evening, I found an egg on one of the leaves, then several folded nests and one leaf roll. I went back and got my camera and couldn't find the egg, but I did get a picture of a hatchling in the process of making the folded leaf nest and a completed one. You can see how they eat in a line across the leaf to create the flap -
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Here's the picture of one of the completed ones -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I looked for the egg again today and still couldn't find it!
Sherry


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

So neat!


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Nice and so cute! All the swallowtails are in flight up here and it is so nice after a slow summer.
-Elisabeth


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

MissSherry, you don't know how excited I was to see your post. A friend and I were walking in the woods today, and the trail runs along a small patch of Sassafras. Remember reading something here about folded leaves so I decided to take a look. There were quite a few folded leaves, some had weird bugs or spiders in them or they were empty. But we found 2 small cats! If their size is comparable to Monarch or Black Swallowtail cats I would say they are 2nd and 3rd instar. They are bigger than your little guy in the photo. They look kind of like little polywogs.

I brought them home with a sprig of Sassafras. They are now in a butterfly box on their branch. I have no idea what to expect with these guys since they're my first Spicebush Swallowtail cats! :)

So how do they get the leaf to stay folded over like that? Does that give them good protection against predators?


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The leaf will stay folded over on its own, terrene - the inside of the nests look like they've got a little silk on them, so I guess they use silk and some kind of stickum to do it. The nests undoubtedly give them some protection, but I've found dead, mutilated looking cats in the nests/rolls, so they're not perfect.
There are always a lot of folded over leaves and leaf rolls on sassafras. Once the little cat outgrows its nest, it'll make a leaf roll, come out of it mostly at night to eat, and when it outgrows that one, it'll make another one. Spiders and other bugs like to use the old nests, so I guess they're sort of like woodpecker holes in trees - when the woodpecker is through with it, others benefit.
I brought four little bitty cats in to a cage in their nests.
I saw TWO female spicebush swallowtails nectaring on the lantana in my yard today at the same time, so maybe the reason I've been seeing her so much is because she's them. :)
Sherry


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Great photos Sherry! It's amazing that they know to make a folded leaf like that. They're sooo tiny when they first hatch, I don't think their little brains could even be seen without a very good microscope. I know it's "instinct" for them but still hard to figure.

I've seen them go around to the back side of the leaf for a couple(?) days before they make a fold. Your missing egg may have hatched and gone around to the back.

Terrene - Good luck with your new babies.


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Great photos, Sherry. I see very few of the spicebush around. I'm trying to get a few small camphor bushes to attract them.

Finally seeing a major uptick in butterflies, especially the Gulf Fritillaries. Still waiting for the Zebra Longwings.


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Congrats, MissSherry, on your SBSTs! I love the little guys and gals! So cute and the color changes are spectacular. I have never found them in OKC, but I don't have anything they like to eat. I do have a small Tulip Tree - it is about 4.5' tall, but very bushy with lots of foliage. I read that they use this, but I never hear of anyone reporting a find on it. Even the Tigers don't use it here, opting for the Wild Cherry instead.

I have tried and tried to grow Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and failed. I have managed to get them to survive until the 3rd year before, and then they die. The one I planted last year died recently. I think the heat and drought did it in because I watered it frequently since they do like moist soil. It just turned brown and crispy and went to see the big Spicebush in the sky!

So I am happy to see you get results with your Sassafras and I think I've seen you report finding them on Spicebush as well.

Susan


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Okay, I did a little searching on the forum, and read that Spicebush cats take longer to grow during the caterpillar stages. How long do they spend as caterpillars? How long before they eclose?

My new cats are hanging out on leaves and munching a little, and there is some new frass, so I guess that is good. Should they be making folded leaves? Do they usually molt in their folded nests?

I noticed there were small Sassafras trees that had folded leaves but no caterpillars. Does that mean that cats were definitely there at one time? Are Spicebush cats the only bug that makes folded leaves on Sassafras?

Do they prefer younger leaves to eat?

Sorry if I'm rambling but my mind has been swirling with questions.


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Yes, I've found a few on my short-lived spicebushes, Susan. I think I'm going to try one more time to grow a spicebush. This time, I'll plant it deeper than ground level, but only put the soil to the same level as the spicebush grew in its pot. It'll be growing down in a shallow pit- it'll be easier to keep it constantly moist that way. I'll put plenty of leaves on top for mulch. My last one only died when I forgot to water it. The 'pit' holds the water much longer. I've been growing two willow like that, and they've thrived. I'll plant it in a part sun/shade area. With the kind of heat you get in Oklahoma, I'm not surprised you've had trouble growing them!
I wish you'd get more zebra longwings, too, Tom! I love the way they float around, sort of like monarchs. Other Florida butterfly gardeners have reported them using camphor trees/bushes, so, hopefully, that'll work for you.
That must be what happened to the egg, Christie. I'll be on the look out for another leaf roll.
Sherry


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Sherry, I saw this post the other day, but it wasn't until today that I walked out front and took a look at my Lindera benzoin. I have 5 of them. Spicebush Swallowtails aren't listed as being in my county, but I thought I'd plant the bushes and maybe by doing so, they would come. If anything else, the birds would eat the berries. Anyway, I have a lot of leaves like your first picture, I couldn't find any rolled over though. I sort of got side-tracked because I found eggs. The 2 pictures I took came out really blurry, so I'm going to try to take more tomorrow. The thing is, I think they're the Prometha moth eggs! Do they use Lindera too? I didn't see any of those cats on the bushes either. Hard to get in there...lol...I need to become a night owl and sit outside to see this moth!


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Congrats on the Spicebush Swallowtails, Sherry. I've had some nectaring in the yard, but haven't found any eggs on the spicebush. I'll just have to keep watching.

Sandy


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Terrene, spicebush swallowtails don't take any longer to grow than tiger or palamedes swallowtails. But they do take longer than, say, pipevine or black swallowtails.
If you see cut and folded leaves, they were undoubtedly made by spicebush swallowtails. Palamedes swallowtails make something of a leaf roll, but they don't occur in your area. If two sides of a leaf are just drawn up together, it could be many other things that made it, like other cats, spiders, etc.
In my experience, the cats prefer young or mid-mature leaves.
Promethea moths probably do use spicebush, Terry, because I know they use sassafras, a close relative. I've found quite a few promethea cocoons on sassafras, but oddly, I've never found a cat, so I don't know what they do to a leaf on the tree. I've raised them in cages from eggs from females that came from cocoons I got off trees, but I don't remember them making any type of shelter, they may have, though.
Thanks, Sandy, they're eating and pooping, so all is well with my four.
Sherry


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Thank Sherry. I had their name spelled right the first time, but for some reason I dropped the e....d'oh. I haven't had a chance to look again, I shouldn't be on here! Thanks again...


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Thanks for the info MissSherry! I have been googling and reading but haven't found any site that talks about raising these. My 2 little cats are doing well and have made their folded leaf nests and were hanging in there all day.

Across the street there is a small woodland that has lots of Sassafras along a slope. There are several large trees, that appear to have sent out many suckers. I was scouring 2-3 dozen small trees, and finally found one little 1st instar cat! Looks just like the picture above.

I'm going to try to find other wild Sassafras because I remember seeing other trees while out hiking around, besides the 2 little groves where we've found the cats so far. I will be checking for cut and folded leaves. This is fun!


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Yes, it is fun!
My four little spicebush cats are eating, pooping and growing great. I found at least one more cat on another sassafras sprouting from the roots.
Two female spicebush swallowtails continue to hang out in the garden. Getting a picture of them is very difficult, because they flutter their wings so much, but this one is decent -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


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There was a beautiful Spicebush Swallowtail that came through the back garden yesterday, nectaring on the Lobelia cardinalis. They don't hold still much, and I couldn't get a picture.

I hope my 3 little Spicebush cats are okay. I have yet to see them come out of their leaf nests, but there is usually some new frass in the morning, so somebody is eating. This morning when I peeked in the leaf fold of the biggest one, it was bigger and had turned green! So apparently it has molted. Does that mean it is 4th instar now?

I need to collect fresh leaves today. They aren't eating them very fast and they're wilting. I plan to check again for eggs and cats.


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Sassafras leaves are hard to keep fresh in water, unless you can find new growth growing on old growth that's been cut. There's a lot of that here now, because the power company savaged trees on the side of my driveway. If you cut from the big, old growth, then put the whole branch in water, it will stay fresh for a long time. I've got two pieces like that in water for my spicebush cats, and they've made their little nests all over them - I'll be bringing them some more this afternoon. When they come out and eat, they're usually eating the leaf closest to their nests, because that's what's being chewed. The leaves on these two short branches were in the shade when they were growing outside, and the leaves on them are small and very tender, just right for real young cats, like mine.
I'm not sure which instar they're in after they molt into their green skin, Terrene, can't remember, but 4th sounds right. So it won't be too long before yours will be yellow and pupating.
Sherry


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More great info MissSherry, thanks so much. Have you raised a lot of Spicebush Swallowtails?

Well, I went out this afternoon to collect more leaves, check the trees, and scout out some new Sassafras. Found 7 more cats, mostly 1st and 2nd instar, with one 3rd instar. Yippee! I also found several cats that were dead in their leaf roll. One little first instar looked like it was captured by a spider. It seemed odd there were no large cats.

These caterpillars are so interesting, and they're fun to look for, just have to make sure I don't forget to put on mosquito repellent.


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Hi everyone! So, what are the odds that the day after I read this thread, I go out to check my two new spicebushes (both just a little over a foot tall)and find about five eggs, with one just having hatched not five minutes ago and another right behind it! I'm so excited, my first ever monarch cats and spicebush cats all in the same week. I'm leaving in a few days and won't be back for a week. Should I leave them on the spicebush and take them in when I get back? I'm worried they'll get eaten. My other option is, my friend has a three foot tall sassafras growing on their property, I could dig that up, pot it, and raise the cats on it inside. What do you guys think? Sorry for all the questions...I'm a newbie!


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I'd be shocked if the 3' tall sassafras lived after you dig it up. They're almost impossible to transplant - one reason for that might be that most of them come from root runners, they're not seedlings, but I've had difficulty with seedlings, too. If I were you, I'd leave them where they are until I got back.
Sassafras is hard to keep fresh in water, unless you luck into a situation like I have where there are many branches sprouting from larger branches. If you cut down at the lower, bigger branch, then put that in a water pick or left overs container, it'll stay fresh. The other way is to feed more mature leaves that you've cut one leaf at a time. They'll still usually go bad before the cat eats it all, so you have to add another by the side of the bad one for the cat to crawl onto and eat.
I have raised many spicebush cats, terrene, but they're a lot more trouble than many other cats, so I limit my numbers to a few at the time. I'm raising five now, but I saw a little bitty one yesterday that I might add. I've found dead cats in leaf rolls, too, and it bothers me, because I always wish I had brought that one in! But you can only do so much, and there are always plenty of spicebush swallowtails around - they're my state's official butterfly - so they do alright without us. :)
Sherry


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Thanks MissSherry! I'm just a little paranoid; all the monarch cats I didn't bring in have disappeared. I'll leave them until I get back then and hope they'll still be there. I'm sure at least a few will be. I've never found any menacing-looking insects on my spicebush like I have on the milkweed! Thanks for the advice on feeding, too!
I'm lucky enough to know where I can find a mature spicebush around here, so I can easily take some cuttings from that for them.


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Jibd, congrats on getting eggs for both! Is there some sort of tulle or netting that could be put over the shrubs? Even if your little cats don't survive until you get back, maybe you will get more eggs when you are home to tend them.

I have raised many spicebush cats, terrene, but they're a lot more trouble than many other cats

MissSherry, uh oh...what sort of trouble, lol?! Have I gotten in over my head with 10 of them? I also have a BST that's about to pupate and some Monarch eggs, but they aren't a lot of work right now.

This afternoon one of the 3rd instar cats wandered out of his box and I found him on the edge of another box. He must have gone out a hole in the top. I figured he didn't like the leaves, so I went over to the Sassafras in the little woodland across the street, and cut a larger branch as you said and put that in water. Added a couple larger fresh leaves to the floral foam, put the little wanderer back in the box, and he settled down and made a leaf nest. It worries me when cats start wandering around!


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The only reason I can think of that they might be more "trouble," would be when it comes to feeding them. It's a lot easier to cut some fennel and stick it in some water for the BST's then it is to try and get some Spicebush to hold up in water. Other than that, I think they may be easier to raise than the BST's. I think the Spicebush cats are more quiet as babies, you don't see them a whole lot since they mostly stay in their beds (that's what I call them LOL), so you don't get to experience them shedding their skin too much.


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Correct!
Like yesterday I cut off the very new little branch that the little bitty cat was on that I said I was going to bring in, knowing that it would likely droop. Well, it did, right away, so yesterday evening I went to the area with the new growth on older, tougher stems that had been cut. I have to stoop over to get under the branches, wade through poison ivy and briars to get there, then pick out my good sassafras while bent over. I found a real good branch, brought it to the porch, fixed a new container of water, washed the new branch, in case it had bugs or something on it, put it in the water, cut off the droopy leaves of the other branch with the cat in its nest on it, then put them the two branches together in the new container. When the cat comes out of the nest, it will have only the fresh, turgid leaves to eat and make its new nest on.
With other cats, I only have to wash the leaves before adding them - they don't present the "stay fresh" problems that sassafras does.
Sherry


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Thanks for the info, guys! Your cats better be thankful that you suffer such an ordeal getting them leaves, MissSherry! lol Yes they are a little more trouble to feed. It's a 5 minute walk for me over to the woodland, but no briars and poison ivy involved, haha. Not as easy to run out in the middle of the night and get food though!

Well, my little cats seem to be doing okay. I have again found a couple little ones wandering around the edge of the containers, which makes me nervous that they will get lost or squished. Got fresh leaves for them last night. Here's a pic of my oldest babies - the biggest one has been green for about 5 days now??


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Hehehe! I tell them every day how much trouble they are, and how much they should appreciate me! :)
Your cats are adorable, terrene! My little cats have grown hugely compared to the tiny little things I brought in, and this one, and maybe the others, are at that interesting looking stage where they're brown, but you can see green coloring started to seep in, and you can see the yellow spots over their "eyes" coming through -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


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Boy, I had a little panic yesterday afternooon! Looked in the container above with the green cats (all 4th instar), and one of them was missing. Checked every leaf, then all 3 containers with Spicebush cats, and no where to be seen. Yikes! Got out my brightest flashlight, started moving stuff off the hutch carefully, checking the shelving, sides, and back of the hutch. No cat!

Started moving stuff around, and checking the floor. After 20 minutes or so of looking, found the wayward cat shuffling along the tile floor a few feet away from the hutch. It could have easily been stepped on! Pheeeewwwwww.

Put that cat back in the container and went out immediately went to get more Sassafras. Wow, gotta watch these guys closely and keep their leaves fresh. :-/


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'Glad you found that cat, terrene - you sure could have stepped on it!
Whenever my cats come out of their leaf rolls, they're green, so I guess all of them have reached that stage. These have grown fast!
Sherry


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Well, hey MissSherry, 9 days ago you said it would be long until my green cat was yellow and pupating. Well, lo and behold, look at this:

He has turned orange! How interesting. Only took 9 days, LOL.

Boy, do these cats take their time growing up. They're so pokey, but picky little things. If they don't like their leaves, they decide to wander off someplace else. I lost one of the small cats in the 3rd box. Disappeared. I have no idea if it wandered off or deceased for some reason.

Oh well, that's not so bad. I won't be collecting any other swallowtail cats for awhile, because I've collected so many Monarch eggs, it will be totally consuming to raise those for the next couple weeks.


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I took all my Spicebush Swallowtail cats back outside today. I'm hoping there is enough food for them. There are 3 small spicebushes, 2 which are about 2 foot tall, and one about 12 inches. The 12 inch is one I thought died last year, but came back up from the roots. There are seven caterpillars, all different sizes. Two are close to pupation. I hope they stay safe. Tomorrow I head to Beartooth Plateau.

Sandy


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Well, yours WOULD turn orange, terrene - they more commonly turn bright yellow! :)
Mine look to be last instar already, so, for whatever reason, this batch has grown very quickly - they usually grow more slowly, more like what you describe. At this rate, I should be getting a yellow/orange one in a few days, if not sooner.
Congrats on your pupating cat!
Sherry


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Okay, a little while ago a big dark green blob of stuff appeared on a leaf! He was crawling around. It looks like he purged. I didn't realize he was pupating THAT soon. I put him in the aquarium with the sticks and some BST chrysalises and 1 Monarch that eclosed this morning. Is it really time for him to pupate?

I wish mine were growing as fast as yours - probably your hotter more sultry climate and all those fresh Sassafras cuttings.

Sandy, hope cats are okay and that you have a great trip. Be sure to post some pics when you get back.


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It's me again, yes indeed this orange guy was ready to pupate, which he/she is doing right now under a leafy stick. Very similar to Black Swallowtails. How exciting!

I hope the rest of these guys get to pupating soon, because I'm going to be so busy raising Monarchs in the next couple weeks. There are tons of eggs out there, and I ordered a pop up enclosure from Educational Science, to try and rear about 50-60 Monarchs in a big push.

Grow, Spicebush Swallowtail cats, grow! :)


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When you get through raising your monarchs, would you send some my way, terrene? I haven't seen one since early spring. My milkweed/A. curassavica is all taller than me now, with lots of leaves on each stem - I'm ready for some eggs!
Sherry


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Well, out of 10 cats collected there are 8 left - 2 went AWOL? 3 have pupated, and 5 are 4th instar. The 5 cats are all green and are all in the same box together now.

I've been so busy with Monarchs that I didn't notice until this afternoon that the Spicebush cats were only down to 3 leaves. Two of the cats were staging a mutiny - they were heading up the side of the box. Immediately hiked out to a small Sassafras grove which is about a 20 minutes away. It's next to a stream where the trees get plenty of moisture and can produce tender growth.

I have tried to roughly follow Ladobe's method of taking cuttings from the wild (no ice though). I used florist tubes and zipper bags. This Sassafras is nice! Much better than the grove that's 5 minutes away. The cuttings are in the bottom shelf in the fridge. Now I can give them fresh leaves every day instead of ever 1 1/2-2 days.

And here are the buggers - they were so excited to get new leaves! 3 of them immediately made new leaf folds. :)


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Miss Sherry - my Spicebush always turn orange, not yellow. Wonder why? Mine feed on Camphor and Redbay.


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Hmmm....my spicebush feed on sassafras and, as I recall, they always turn yellow, although this last one had a slightly orangey look. My palamedes swallowtails eat redbay, and they turn orange, so maybe that's the difference I don't know, Mary.
I brought one more in to bring my total to seven. Four have pupated, and the other three are green and appear to be in the last instar. I imagine these will all emerge and none will overwinter, but it's possible some might not emerge until spring, time will tell.
Sherry


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One of my remaining cats has purged and turned the typical color -
Image
Sherry


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Great Thread and wonderful photos!

Thank you for all the information.

~ Mary


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Loved all the photos. Can't wait to get a spicebush in.


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Miss Sherry, speaking of swallowtails not emerging until Spring....

I tried to overwinter 2 Black Swallowtails this past winter in the aquarium. Put them in the garage, spritzed them with water approx 1x per week, and brought them into the house in the Spring to warm up. One chrysalis rotted - it didn't look right and was caved in. The other hasn't emerged yet! I don't know if it's still viable, it's looks solid, but it's a weird orange brown color, compared to the bark brown of a normal BST chrysalis.

I'm not sure if I am over-wintering them very well. I was thinking about taking these Spicebush cats back to the Sassafras grove once they purge, so they can pupate in the wild, under natural conditions. Do you (or any other swallowtail aficionados out there) have any thoughts about that idea??


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The orange brown one is most likely dead, too, terrene - so sorry! :(

If it were me, I wouldn't put them out in the sassafras trees, I'd put them in something with good air flow, like a pop-up laundry basket or reptarian cage - you can see one in the above picture. The aquarium would probably be okay, though, provided you put a screen or mesh covering on the top and don't spritz the chrysalides. Spritzing them once a week and keeping them in your garage where the wind doesn't blow, is a sure way to get them to rot. I don't spritz any of my chrysalides, because there's no way I could give them the proper air flow, even on my front porch - it faces South - and the wind there is much less than outside, especially in winter. Under natural conditions, a chrysalis gets rained or snowed on, but then the dry north wind blows on it and dries the water off. Chrysalides in places outside that stay wet, like in a crevice in the bark of a tree, are less likely to make it, in my opinion. You know how moldy wet places with no air flow can get!
Household air in spring, assuming you're still using heating, would be dryer than outside, maybe desert-like, so I wouldn't bring them into the house either. Do you have a porch where you could put the aquarium or cage or pop-up laundry basket so that they could gradually warm up naturally in spring?
I have a guest room, and I shut the door and shut the vent so that it's colder (and more humid) than the rest of the house, which is heated, though not much, because I don't like too much of that dry heat. Also, where I live, we don't need much heat, I just wear a sweater in the house if it gets cold. I put my chrysalides in there some years, and it works out well.
If you can't give them proper air flow, it would be better to put them in the sassafras trees, but a lot of them will die there from critters and the extreme forces of weather.
I've successfully overwintered thousands of butterflies, so my way must be pretty good. Very few of mine die over the winter, a tiny percentage, like 5% or less. I've had a problem with some of them emerging too early, like late winter, so I'll probably not keep any of them in the house this winter. The unheated guest room is still warmer than outside.
Of course, I live in southeast Mississippi, a very humid place, but Massachusetts is in the East, so it's got to be wet and humid, too. In the arid parts of the West, spritzing might help, but I wouldn't do it here.
Congrats on getting your spicebush cats to the chrysalis stage!
Sherry


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Okay, what is the deal with them being such escape artists? I've named one Spoudini (Spicebush-Houdini). This batch started with 6. As babies I found one outside the lid of the BST aquarium next to their aquarium. He must have had an accomplice who I never found. So then there were 5. They got a little bigger and in doing my daily count (I decided this was necessary) 2 were missing. It was pure luck that I found Spoudini on the floor!! He looked okay, but I wasn't 100% certain he was, but gave him a chance and luckily he was fine. The other missing one I couldn't find. Then on Monday we had a butterfly to be released and their aquarium has a sliding lid which my mom failed to slide all the way closed. I came home from work and saw one outside of tank! Did my count, and one more was missing! They are fairly big now and we looked all over for him. I thought he was gone for good. The next morning I'm sitting at the computer eating breakfast and look down and there he is!!

I was getting worried because I have 3 still eating and my spicebushes are almost bare from feeding them. I found a really nice nursery about 40 minutes away that had several plants. No other nursery close by has any spice bush. So went this morning. The plants they had are really big and I even found a few cats on some of them. They had all sorts of nice plants and sooo many butterflies hanging around! I saw some I had never seen in person before. With this plant I should have way more than enough food for these guys. I was so excited to find a nice big plant and at a reasonable price!


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Hi Miss Sherry, you were right about the BST chrysalis, it was completely dried up. Also thank you for all the help on this thread. Raising these guys would have been so much more difficult without your guidance. I have been thinking about your suggestions.

Re: overwintering, yes we tend to have a moist winters, and the garage would have little airflow, even less in the aquarium tank, so perhaps I did keep them too wet. I don't have a porch or unheated room, so the basement or garage are the choices. I ordered a "rearing sleeve"from Monarch Watch. Do you think I could use this to overwinter the Swallowtails? In the garage or outside?

Anyway, all of my Papilio troilus (there you go Larry, if you're reading) have pupated! 8 out of the original 10. Here are a couple pics.

The Sassafras I collected worked out great. The leaves were fabulous. The cats grew into nice fat green, and then orange, caterpillars. These were the last 2 to pupate -

Here are a couple chrysalises (with a freshly eclosed Monarch). As you can see one is green! All the rest are orangey tan or brownish. Do you think the green one or any others will eclose this year?


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

You're so welcome, I love talking butterflies/caterpillars, terrene!
It's funny, I was thinking about finding this thread this morning to let you know that the first two of my spicebush swallowtails emerged, a male and a female. They were both very anxious to leave! I've been so busy with my monarchs - what PIGS!! - and learning the new camera, I didn't get their picture. They'll probably show up in my garden, and if I see any newly-emerged-looking spicebush swallowtails, I'll assume it's them and take their picture. :-0

Is the mesh (or whatever) fine enough to keep out little critters, like little spiders? If so, it'll undoubtedly be fine. I think the aquarium would be fine so long as you don't mist the chrysalids. You know what the air flow is like in your garage better than I do, though.

I only raised ?6 spicebush swallowtails, I think it was, and of those, 2 were green. I think the green ones are prettier, but I usually get fewer of them than the brown ones.

Sherry


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Congrats on your first 2 eclosures! I am wondering if any of mine will eclose. Surely some or most will over winter. There are also 2 Papilio polyxenes chrysalises that have decided to overwinter.

Mytabbycat, I am with you on the Spoudinis. These guys do like to wander. I ended up with 8 of the original 10 cats collected. 3 went AWOL, and only found one as he was crawling along the tile floor next to a potted plant. The cats were much better behaved and stayed in the box when they got fresh Sassafras leaves at least once a day.


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

I don't know if yours will overwinter or emerge this year, terrene.
Two more of mine emerged during T.S. Lee - both males - and another one - a female - emerged this morning from her green chrysalis. She flew to a tree on the edge of the woods, so I didn't think I'd get to make her picture. This afternoon, while I was picking up fallen limbs in the woods close to the area where she flew, a female spicebush swallowtail drifted down right in front of me. Her blue has greater coverage than most females. Maybe she's really a he? :/

Photobucket

Sherry


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Looks like a well-marked female to me! :D


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

She is a beauty!!

No eclosures here as yet. Not sure if we'll get lift off this year or not, hehe! Anyway, the weather has been lousy the last 3 days. Cool in the high 50s/low 60s, and rainy. Lots of rain. Terrible weather for butterflies.


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Very cool thread Sherry, and thanks for pulling it back up to share. I have not seen one single Spicebush Swallowtail yet this season. Not one. Come to think of it, I have only seen one Pipevine. I wonder if our rainless scorching hot August factors in. I'm really not seeing many big butterflies at all.


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

I'll add a story from yesterday's volunteer naturalist training that I am doing at the local nature center. Our teacher/leader "D" took us out on one of the trails and we caught sight of a butterfly caught in a spider web. So D released it from the web and brought it back for us to examine. She asked us if we could ID it. She turned it over noting the white spots in the cells on the ventral forewing and told us it was a female Black Swallowtail. I chimed in and said as gently as possible, "I think it's a Spicebush Swallowtail male." I showed her and the group the aqua coloring and the spots on the wing margin that were also aqua colored. I explained that the females have blue coloring with the wing margin spots colored blue. D and I are doing a Skipper workshop together on Saturdays in preparation for our next NABA BF count on the 30th, and are good friends. She turned to me and said, "It's a good thing I'm not teaching a Swallowtail workshop!"

BTW, she's good at IDing the skippers! Also, I found Spicebush caterpillars and showed the group, and Pipevine caterpillars. When D was doing closure, she asked for the favorite thing from the hike, the two guys both thought seeing the caterpillars was best! Think I'll enjoy my new "job". I just have to learn to ID scat, smells, leaves, plants, animal tracks, critters in pond scum, etc. D has me down on the mat for the count when it comes to those things. But then she's the paid trained naturalist.

Sandy


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

What an interesting "job" Sandy! Y'all should visit my little 5 acre plot - critters are everywhere here. I saw a deer close to the house yesterday, there are big banana spiders all along the paths, and I found a recently excavated hole in the ground yesterday. I'd hope this hole isn't an armadillo!
Speaking of wild areas, the stream terrene showed reminds me of the little stream on my property, which is flowing good now, thanks to T.S. Lee. But sassafras doesn't grow there or anywhere near there. Sassafras grows far up the slope on the best drained parts, parts I consider dry.
Which reminds me, I've got a spot inside the fence around my yard, protected from browsing deer, where I'd like to plant a spicebush. I planted one in a good spot several years ago, but the rabbits and/or deer just loved it to death! :(
Sherry


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Your five acres sounds like heaven! I would love to have a place like that, but hubby thinks our eight-tenths of an acre is big enough. So I have to go "play" at the nature center which is about 900 acres. It will take me quite a while to explore it all.

I hope your digger isn't an armadillo. We found armadillo holes at the NC yesterday, but we definitely have them here. Where I used to live on a much smaller lot, my next door neighbor would bury banana peels around his roses. Armadilloes would dig them up. They don't have a problem with suburbia!

Maybe one of these days I'll make a trek down your direction.

Sandy


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

I agree that Sandy's job sounds very interesting, and Miss Sherry's 5 acres sound and LOOK like heaven, judging from her pics on Garden pictures thread.

As for the Spicebush Swallowtails, we had lift off this week! One butterfly eclosed on Tuesday. Oddly it was the 4th cat to pupate, in the middle of the pack. I barely even noticed this guy, since the chrysalis didn't seem to darken that much beforehand. I only got one pic because the butterfly was very antsy to get out and flew away strongly and 1/2 way across the yard when I opened the aquarium.

I got a glance at the top of the wings, the blue seemed overall dull, so I don't know if it was a male or female? Can you tell from this pic?


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RE: Spicebush Swallowtails

Congrats on the spicebush swallowtail!
I can't tell just from the undersides if it's a male or female.
Sherry


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