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Giant Swallowtail - healthy and beautiful

Posted by mary_littlerockar 7b Central Arkansas ( on
Fri, Aug 12, 11 at 10:42

Just wanted to let everyone know the first of three Giant Swallowtail pupas eclosed and it is healthy, strong and beautiful and now flitting around outside.

I lost an entire cage of Pipevine Swallowtails to a tiny wasp infestatiion earlier this year so this release is especially meaningful to me.

I have a lot of BST's in various stages of growth and have had one eclose that was healthy, too. I'm bringing in all the eggs and tiny cats I find and raising them inside.

I've planted more Rue this year, as that host plant covers both the Giant and Black Swallowtail butterflies and the plants are perennial for me and attactive throughout the season. Also have a lot of parsley started, which will be grown in pots on the deck. These new parsley plants will replace the ones which will expire this season. If the fennel comes back next spring, that will be icing on the cake. The spicebush plants have all rooted well enough to make it through this terrible heat this summer so I'm hopeful they are becoming established and will return next year. The pipevines are growing well but I've not had any more eggs since the spring. Maybe next year. If so, I'll bring them inside, where I can better protect them from those tiny wasps.

Have only seen two Monarchs all season and neither left eggs. I have plenty of milkweed and can only hope I have a few stop by on their fall trip to Mexico.

I'm slowly learning what butterfly and hummingbird plants will grow well here in my hot and humid area and discarding those plants that don't do well. Each year is better than the last.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Giant Swallowtail - healthy and beautiful

That's wonderful that your giant swallowtail emerged perfect, Mary! There's one hanging out in the cage this morning - when I release him - 'looks to be a beautiful, smallish male - he'll be #29, with a good many still in the chrysalis.
I'm raising some pipevine swallowtails in a big cage, but have left the rest outside. I was nervous about doing that after seeing what happened to yours, but mine have never been parasitized - knock on wood! - so hopefully, they'll be okay.
I'm SOOOOO ready for summer to end!! The older I get, the less I can stand the heat.

RE: Giant Swallowtail - healthy and beautiful

Mary, congrats on your Giant Swallowtail eclosing "healthy and beautiful". I lost my one and only larva, and all the eggs I found weren't viable. Do you grow your rue in full sun? I have had trouble getting it established here. The eggs and larva were found on a Zanthoxylum clava-herculis tree I bought this spring, so hopefully, there will be more action next year.

I saw two Monarchs yesterday, the first in six or more weeks. So, we may start seeing them again. How have the A variegatas made it through the heat? Mine have really taken a beating. I have one that has held on to its leaves, and two that shed their leaves, are putting on new foliage. I have 3 still in pots which I'll keep until next season. These are in pots that are tall to allow for lots of root expansion. The gopher is active again since the rains, so I don't want to tempt him/her. He got a 4 foot MW this week. One day it was there; the next there was no sign it had ever existed, like I had just imagined it. It's hard to comprehend that all the leaves, etc, could just disappear overnight. This was probably a Speciosa. I collected the seeds from plants in a field in Kentucky. The Monarchs loved to lay eggs on the big leaves. : (

It has been the worst summer I can remember, and according to the weather bureau, July was the hottest ever in Oklahoma, and anywhere in the US in recorded history. We just never cooled down.

Hope you have gotten some of the rains this week. It's another cloudy, humid day. But, I won't complain as the heat was worse. However, a new crop of mosquitos hatched out and they are blood thirsty!


RE: Giant Swallowtail - healthy and beautiful

I thank you, ladies, for your good wishes.

Sherry, I have four more tiny Giant Swallowtail cats I'm raising inside and there is a large one on the Rue I've not yet attempted to remove and bring inside. I discovered him two nights ago when I was harvesting fresh Rue for the little cats I have inside. Each time I've checked on him, he looks like he's not moved at all so thought I'd wait until he begins eating again before I bother him. I can't believe I've missed him this long, as I check the Rue very carefully each day. At least the wasps have missed him, too.

Sandy, I agree with you and Sherry, I will be so relieved to see the end of this summer heat. We have had some rain the past two days and it's been wonderful. I hope you get some, too.

The little wild red ring is still green and has all of it's leaves. My red ring baby that bloomed this spring recently lost all of it's leaves and then the stalk slowly turned brown and died. I don't know if the roots survived but surely hope so. Three other babies dried up and disappeared, too, even with me watering them regularly. I finally set a lawn chair over them to help shade the remainder that still had leaves and they're all still green. I am hoping, since they're a wild plant, that the roots somehow survive and we'll see new growth next spring.

My Rue gets quite a bit of sun and I deep water it at least every other day. I might also try to grow some in a big pot on the deck next season, where it would have limited direct sun, then dappled most of the day, just to see how it would do up there. The parsley does well on the deck and it makes it easy to watch for eggs. I think Rue is a pretty plant, rather lacy looking to me, with it's light green scalloped leaves. I've got new Rue seedlings I just transplanted into holding pots and I've just planted more seed that I'll overwinter in the greenhouse. I feel the Rue does much better in our heat than the parsley.


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