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Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Posted by misssherry Z8/9SE MS (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 23:04

Rick in LA (lower Alabama) and I met on I-10 Sunday and made a lep swap. I gave him two red-spotted purple caterpillars (knowing that wild black cherry is everywhere) one RSP chrysalis, and some luna moth hatchlings (also knowing that sweetgum is everywhere)! In return Rick gave me what looks like an egg dump from a pipevine swallowtail. They had already started hatching when I got them, and MANY more have hatched today. There is another small cluster that hasn't yet hatched. At this point, I can't count how many there are, but 30-40 would be a conservative estimate! A few weeks ago I cut back the old, useless growth on some of my pipevines, so they have LOTS of new growth on them now. There was already new growth, plus some old growth, on some newer pipevines I have. This afternoon, I cut back some vines considerably that were nothing but old, useless leaves, not fit for any pipevine swallowtail to eat. i also cut back another small group of vines in another place. I'll be putting some low nitrogen fertilizer (Espoma) plus cow manure around the newly pruned vines to encourage more new growth.

Rick also threw in some gulf fritillary eggs! I've got some caterpillars now, but they're all about to pupate, and I have plenty of passionvines with lots of new growth on them, so I can easily feed these.

I found about six red-spotted purple eggs on a wild black cherry near my house, so I'll be monitoring them and bring them in as soon as they hatch, maybe before. The wild black cherry on my property has old leaves, very little new growth, but there are some stumps not too far from here on tornado damaged woods with much new growth that I'll use.

A pipevine swallowtail visited me in my garden today, but it was another male! My overwintered pipevine swallowtail chrysalides were all female, and now I can only get males! So, as you might imagine, I'm REAL happy to have these babies! They're at the 'ant' stage now, but they really grow quickly!

I feel lucky!

Sherry


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

You are lucky indeed! Congrats and good luck! Keep us posted.
I am seeing a whole lot of Pipevines in my yard now, so they must be having a very good year. I have only seen one Gulf Frit this year, and so far, I haven't found any eggs or cats on my Passionvine. It's very odd to me that I haven't seen one Black SWT or one Buckeye yet. My yard is normally full of them.
Angie


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

I haven't seen a single black swallowtail here, the only one I've seen all year was at the eye doctor's office in Hattiesburg when I took my husband for surgery there. They have large landscaped areas with lots of lantana - all that cataract money, I guess.

Buckeyes have been plentiful here this year, I even saw a buckeye chrsyalis plus an adult on the 'tornado property' where a lot of Agalinis is growing. I imagine you'll start seeing them when the Agalinis is in bloom.

There haven't been as many gulf frits here as usual, but there are some.

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

I'm glad the Pipevine cats made the trip, hopefully you can replenish them in your area. Mama Pipevine Swallowtail has revisited my backyard and left many more eggs; i probably have close to 100 eggs/cats. I think my Pipevines are about to get pretty ratty looking. The Gulf Fritillaries are a constant now, with ELFs laying eggs on all the Passion Vines. Sulphers are fluttering around the sides of the road. I even collected 3 Giant Swallowtail eggs yesterday on my Kumquat Tree. Things are really looking up.

Thanks for the trade, I'd like to get Red Spotted Purples going in my area; at least there will be 3.


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Sherry,

So happy you now have some pipevine swallowtails to raise, especially since you have so much host plant for them. I can remember you saying, several seasons back, how you always had pipevine swallowtails flying about and I couldn't imagine seeing lots of butterflies every time I went outside. Well, this summer I've had an abundance of these little guys. They're slowing down now but it has been such a treat this summer.

And please tell me where you trim your pipevine. My largest vines are growing up a tall, narrow trellis and of course, the growth is twisted upon itself on the upper half of the trellis. Do you cut them back down near the ground or trim the part that twists upon itself during the growing season? I'm sure mine could benefit from a hair cut! Just don't know how to go about it.

Mary


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

It's good to hear that you've had plenty of pipevine swallowtails, Mary!

My pipevines grow (mostly) on the 6' high chain link fence that surrounds my 50'X20' garden. I cut mine back to the top of the fence. It's a mess doing it, because, as you know, the vines intertwine with each other at the top. My vines, however, have all that area to grow laterally. If yours are on a narrow trellis, maybe you should cut them back closer to the ground? I didn't know how to do it, either, but I knew that I had females laying eggs everywhere, and I needed a lot more new growth, so I just did what seemed best and crossed my fingers. Those great big, old leaves that have been on the vines since February or early March are about inedible, even to a late instar caterpillar. The hatchlings could never eat those leaves, even if their Mama laid eggs on it, which they rarely ever do. Pipevines grow back quickly, fortunately!

The main ingredient of the Espoma fertilizer (for bulbs) I used is chicken manure and chicken feathers, but it also adds some things like bone meal and other things with phosphorous and potash and not so much nitrogen. At this time of year, I didn't want to overdo the nitrogen. I've already watered the fertilizer/cow manure in, except on the vines in beds around the picket fence around my house.

It was in the 60's this morning - wow!!

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!P.S.

Congrats on the giant swallowtails, Rick! I haven't raised any this year, my only giant swallowtail visitor being a male.

Hopefully, an egg-laying female will show up!

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Wow, a lep swap! Awesome! Hope all the little eggs and cats grow up to big Lepidoptera. :)


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

A beautiful male pipevine swallowtail visited my garden today, and I just HAD to make pictures, sorry! Here he is nectaring on lantana -

 photo 2013PVSonLantana3_zps790f9e9d.jpg

Some people have asked how to identify various dark swallowtails. I'm posting this picture of him nectaring on coral porterweed, so you can see his undersides -

 photo PVSUnderside_zps59918e44.jpg

Here's a picture I took inside the cage of the little caterpillars - it doesn't begin to show all of them -

 photo PVSCageScene_zps36f4d5a9.jpg

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Beautiful pics, Sherry! I always tell people to look for the letter C on the underside formed by the orange dots. :) I just love the PVST's iridescent blue! So far this year I've released 26. If it weren't for the Pipevine Swallowtails and the Giant Swallowtails, I wouldn't be raising much of anything this year since no female Monarchs showed up here. It almost makes all the hours I spend killing aphids pointless. . :/
Cathy


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

awww...they are soo beautiful, sherry, I am so jealous now. you guys are so lucky to have all kinds of swallowtails:-)


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Well, Cathy, I'm glad you've got PVSs and giants, but it's too bad they're the only ones. As I recall, you used to get variegated frits? and others? This has been a bad butterfly year for me - no black swallowtails at all, no palamedes or giant swallowtail cats, only two variegated frit cats, and no monarchs of any description. If not for red-spotted purples and spicebush swallowtails, and lots of buckeyes and sulphurs, things would really be bare here!
But I'm enjoying these pipevine swallowtail babies!

We are lucky to have many different types of swallowtails, Hawaiiponderer!

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Sherry, You have a very good memory! :) Yes, I got Variegated Fritillaries but haven't seen any here at all this year or last year. The Black Swallowtails aren't around this year either and no Monarchs except for one male that showed up here but now I haven't seen him for a few days. I haven't seen any Common Buckeyes here and no Red Admirals this year either.

There were other years when I'd raise other kinds of butterflies like American Ladies but I never got around to bringing any in this year and once they come through in the spring and lay their eggs, that's it. I don't get any cats the rest of the year. It's one and done.

Unlike you, I've never gotten to raise any Red-spotted Purples or Spicebush cats. I have cherry and willow trees, but I haven't found anything on them yet. My spicebushes also got catless each year. I'm just glad for what I do yet, and I know that you are too. Here's hoping that next year will be a better butterfly year, and I especially hope that the Monarchs have a better year next year. This is the first year since I started butterfly gardening in 2005 that I haven't raised Monarch cats. I think pretty many of us are in the same boat. I feel really bad for those butterflies and wish that things wouldn't go on in the world that are killing off the butterflies. :(

I forgot to mention that I had also raised Wild Indigo Duskywings and Clouded Sulphurs on the wild indigo, but it turns black so fast that I didn't bother this year. I always get Silver-spotted Skipper cats on an Amorpha fruticosa bush that I have in a big pot right outside the back door. I let them on their own and make a point to peek in at them in their sewn-shut leaves every day, but that was a couple months ago and I imagine that they're some of the many SSS that are flying around here right now.
Cathy

This post was edited by caterwallin on Sat, Aug 31, 13 at 15:19


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

The PVS cats are eating, pooping, and growing at their usual break-neck speed. I've separated them into three cages so they can have a decent amount of space. I counted 60+ cats, probably closer to 70, since so many manage to hide! I've tried to put the little ones in their own cage, so they don't get run over, but it's hard to get all of them, since they bunch up. Here's some under just one leaf -

 photo PVSCatSample_zps23dc51bc.jpg

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Funny, I guess I underestimated the number of cats. I never would have guessed there would be that many on that 6 inches of vine. That was 1 busy mama. I haven't tried to count mine but there are lots of them. I hope I have enough potted Pipevine to feed them, I don't want to start carving up my vine in the ground.


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

They purged and purged, and I changed paper towels repeatedly yesterday. This morning, I woke up to two chrysalides, plus MANY in the 'C' pupating. There are still a good many eating, but far less than before - YAY!

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Good for you, Sherry.
Here's hoping you have a bumper crop of PVS next year:-)


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Yes, I sure hope I do, leafhead!

You asked on another thread if PVSs will eat A. durior. By A. durior, do you mean the pipevine, now known as A. macrophylla, that is native to the eastern U.S., makes a small flower and is very similar to the native A. tomentosa? If so, the answer is yes. I have a little of it, which they've laid eggs on and eaten, but A. tomentosa grows better here.

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Great news, Sherry!


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

All the caterpillars made their chrysalis, and the first one emerged yesterday, a male. I carried the cage to the garden to release him, hoping he'd rest on some flowers, and I could get a good picture of him. Instead, he flew over into the neighbor's pecan grove, so that didn't happen. I imagine he'll visit the garden to nectar eventually, so, maybe I can get his picture then. In the meantime, there are quite a few green chrysalides left, most in the cage where I put the ones who first purged. I can't remember a green chrysalis ever overwintering. The brown ones sometimes emerge right away, sometimes overwinter.

I'll post a picture if I can get one of him or any that might emerge this year. I usually don't talk about overwintering this early, but I read somewhere that we were supposed to have a bitterly cold winter. We've already had our first brief cool front - temps went into the 60's at night - so it feels like an early winter, but, of course, that may not be the case.

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Hi Miss Sherry, congrats on all your Pipevine babies, that is a butterfly we don't get much up here either. I think they used to be in parts of Mass. when people would grow Pipevine vines up their porches for shade - but I don't think many people do that any more.

Not sure about the cold winter. Signs are pointing to a mild fall here. I just had a Black Swallowtail eclose yesterday, and I have been keeping the tank outside so the larvae are aware that the nights are now getting cold (down to 40F). There are a couple of more green chrysalises in the tank. They might overwinter? There has been 1 green chrysalis that has over wintered each of the past 2 years, and all the rest have been brown.

Also, I am still seeing a hummer on the Salvia and Cardinal flower - she was out there today. This is the latest date I've observed a hummingbird still in the yard! They are usually gone by now.

I will be happy if it's not too cold!


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

When it gets down to 40 degrees at night, I call that winter, Terrene! I watched the weather tonight, and they said that it was supposed to be in the 60's here at night in late September, so I guess it isn't all that unusual. Hearing that the country was supposed to have a 'bitterly cold winter' must have swayed my opinion, or maybe I just want them to overwinter, so I can get some rest! :)

I can't recall a green chrysalis of any type butterfly, including black swallowtails, ever overwintering here, but my senior mind might be wrong. If you've had them overwinter, maybe I have, too.

We still have a LOT of hummingbirds here, but then they don't normally leave until mid-October, with a few ruby throat stragglers showing up at the feeders in late October. Last winter I got a rufous hummingbird for the first time - 'sure hope I get one this winter!

I'm still raising one variegated frit and some gulf frits, although most GFs are raising themselves outside. I may bring some hatchling red-spotted purples in to raise, or I may leave them outside. I released a RSP the other day, and have two more chrysalides. I'm also raising two more spicebush swallowtails and have a lot of chrysalides. The luna moths FINALLY quit eating and have all made their cocoons, thank goodness - I hope they all overwinter.

The pipevines are making a lot of new growth, so if a pairing of pipevine swallowtails takes place, the vines will be ready.

Terrene, if Massachusetts used to get pipevine swallowtails, they still could do so - Cathy in Pennsylvania gets them. If I were you, I'd plant some some pipevines!

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

egads Miss Sherry! 60's and you're declaring an early winter. You need to come up to Minnesota ;)

As of today, we still have monarchs and hummingbirds up here so my guess is you still have LOT of butterfly season to enjoy.

Congrats on all those pipevines! I planted some macrophylla this season, so hopefully next year we will get our first pipevines. Have fun releasing all of yours, Tony


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Terrene,
I would definitely try to get Pipevine Swallowtails if I were you by planting some pipevine. I think that you would stand a very good chance of getting them, especially since you said they used to be in Massachusetts years ago. They might even be around but you're not aware of it. I didn't see any here until I had my pipevine here a few years. I'm actually glad that they didn't come until it had put on some more growth because the mama laid LOADS of eggs. PVS are lots of fun to raise! I know I said it before, but I'll say it again...they're my very favorite kind of cat to raise! Guess who is giving away Aristolochia macrophylla seeds and lots of other kinds in November. ;-)
Cathy


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

It looks like my pipevine butterfly season is winding down. I've had the best year since starting my butterfly garden and I know it's to the credit of this forum, where everyone so graciously shares their experiences and tips.

I had loads of beautiful pipevine butterflies throughout the summer. Once they showed up, I always had them flitting about. Then about two weeks ago, the little guys pretty much disappeared. I noticed one big cat on the pipevines, up near the top, enjoying new growth. I'd planned on cutting the vines back but left them because of him. Well, yesterday, a beautiful brightly colored male appeared (I wonder if he is the big cat I noticed on the vines abt two weeks ago?). I was standing on the deck, enjoying watching him fly from flower to flower and feeling sorry for him, thinking there would be no company for him this late in the season. Well, as if on cue, an older lady pipevine seemed to appear out of nowhere and began nectaring ... maybe he won't be so lonely after all! :-)

Which brings up a question I wonder about. Where do the spring pipevine butterflies come from in regions with cold weather? Do some chrysalides overwinter or do they migrate north from warmer climates in the spring?

Mary


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

Mary, pipevine swallowtails overwinter as chrysalides everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if some moved northward in spring, but there's no big migration, like with monarchs, cloudless sulphurs, or painted ladies. Even gulf frits move northward from points south.

It's good to hear you had a lot of pipevine swallowtails this year! I've got SO many chrysalides that if even small percentage of them overwinter, I should have a lot for next spring. I consider them to be 'seeds'! :0

Sherry


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RE: Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!

LOL Tony, 60's are our normal overnight temps during the summer, 80 or 90F during the day, 60's at night - great summer weather, most of the time! We pay for it by having crappy winters though.

Miss Sherry and Caterwallin, you are probably right about the Pipevine - if a Giant Swallowtail shows up to lay egg(s) on the Rue this year (which I planted for P. polyxenes), then a Pipevine Swallowtail could show up to lay eggs on Aristolochia. From what I've been reading, while they are still rare in Mass. historically, the Pipevine swallowtails have been reported a bit more frequently than the Giants!

I would love to get some of the your A. macrophylla seeds Cater along with the Dictamnus albus when they are ready!

Miss Sherry, 2 years ago I had a green P. troilus chrysalis, and last year a green P. polyxenes. Here is a pic of the chrysalises from 2012 - these are all P. polyxenes overwintering in a mesh sleeve - and one in the back is green - these all eclosed successfully this past Spring.


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