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Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

Posted by emma1957 Ohio (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 19, 10 at 9:20

I was wondering if you could give me some info on raising Silvery Checkerspots in Ohio. I have planted many nectar and hosts plants to attact local butterflies. I have been so thrilled with lots of different species and have raised several different kinds through the different life stages. I love every minute of it! Yesterday, for the first time I found the Silvery Checkerspot cats on a new bunch of coneflowers that I planted just last year. I am VERY excited!!! I brought a small "batch" in on some coneflower clippings and put them in my "cat" cage. I then did some research and found that late season cats over winter as immature cats at the base of the host plant. I have over wintered chrysalises but never cats. Here are my questions:
Are these considered late season cats and will over winter as cats?
I am going to buy a coneflower still in the pot today to place them on...will they overwinter at the base of the plant in the pot?
Can I keep the pot indoors during the winter? I know with overwintering chrysalises they will over winter inside even with the temperature not being cold as it is this true with overwintering cats?
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! This is the first time I have been on this site...I am excited to find it!
Thank you!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

Yes, they are late season. SCs have two broods, and this is the late brood.

I hesitate to say more because my own experiment last fall with them failed. Granted, we had a harsh winter.

That said, I suspect that bringing them in might mess with their sense of season.

A pot with a net over it sounds like a winner.


RE: Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

I sleeved some on wing stem sunflower with a butterfly sleeve and left them out all winter. We had a crazy winter. The sleeve was still there, but not attached to the plant. I took the contents and put it on green coneflower, they eat that too. I actually got a few caterpillars who pupated and flew.

I winter over Baltimore Checkerspots outside, too. I usually have a small screen tent, which falls down, but I leave it because we have snow cover. Early in March, I put up a new tent over the area and so far I've been successful raising them. I once knew of a person who wintered them over in the frig. But, that person kept careful watch on them. Making sure they didn't dry out.

I wouldn't advise keeping them inside unless you could keep them cold enough.

RE: Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

Thank you Jeff and runmede!!!
I have found several batches...all on my coneflowers. I will put some on the potted coneflower in a screened "cat" house and cover some of the ones outside on the garden plants. Thanks for the info....I am so anxious to actually get to see their chrysalises...the pictures I've seen are so would be a treat to actually see them in person!
I have another question! I assume as it won't be cold here for quite awhile that they go dormant before the cold hits and hide at the base of the plant then? It seems if they keep active..eating and growing until the cold they would get way bigger than I assume they will actually get. I guess I am just wondering what to expect so I don't worry that something is wrong and not the natural cycle.
Thanks again!! Joan

RE: Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

Sorry! I have another question! So is this what will happen in the spring? The cats will then crawl up the new growth on the coneflower and begin to eat again, molt a few times and then pupate? Or do they not eat any more and just find a place to pupate? Do they tend to use the coneflowers to pupate or do they tend to crawl far off to pupate? I guess that was many questions!
PS...I am so glad to have found this forum...up to now I have done all my research is fun to find other folks so interested in butterflies!

RE: Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

One thing you might want to be careful about is using a potted plant straight from a nursery. Many of the plants at the nursery have pesticides incorporated into the soil and plants. Even if the garden center does not use pesticides, the greenhouse where the plant was grown may have done so. Imidaclopird, a common pesticide, is incorporated into potting soil for seed starting. It can last over 40 days in soils (there are varying times based on the study). So, often the nursery doesn't even know it is there. In addition, organic nursery still can use organic pesticides. So, newly purchased plants don't make the best host plants. Pesticides such as Imidacloprid do not affect nectaring butterflies (unless recently sprayed, I assume)but do kill caterpillars.

Good luck,

RE: Over-wintering Silvery Checkerspots

According to my "Butterflies of North America..." by Scott CD-ROM
"Third-stage larvae hibernate in a special reddish-brown skin, as in C. gorgone."

They finish their cycle in the spring. My Green-Headed Coneflower winters over with basal leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Green-Headed Coneflower

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