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My FIRST Tiger!!

Posted by bandjzmom 7 NWGeorgia (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 28, 10 at 7:28

Oh my goodness. I am so excited. It has been such a stellar butterfly season for me. Yesterday, I found my very first Eastern Tiger Swallowtail cat! My dad dug up a couple of little volunteer Yellow Poplar trees in his yard and put them into pots. He brought them to me, and I have watered them all summer and watched them carefully. I think I had given up hope of finding the Tiger, but I looked them over yesterday as I passed, and there he was. Of course, I brought him into the tent. Any suggestions as to his needs? I have plenty of food for this one. YAY!

Here is a link that might be useful: Tiger Cat


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

A friend taught me that they need to be misted. They like the extra water. I do this when I water the potted tree. Shower for the tree, mist for the caterpillar. This year I successfully transferred one on tulip tree to black cherry. The caterpillar was cutting most of the tulip tree leaves and letting them drop so it ran out of leaves. I placed the pot of black cherry near the last leaf on the tulip tree and the caterpillar transferred over and finished its cycle. It was huge when it finally pupated.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Alrighty then. If he wants mist,then mist he shall have! Thanks for the tip!!


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Swallowtail feeding

This is a friend in Michigan. He documented raising Canadian Tiger Swallowtails.

Here is a link that might be useful: Swallowtail feeding


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Details of how to rear from Eggs

The other set of pictures shows how to rear from eggs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Details of how to rear from Eggs


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Very helpful info. Thanks so much. My little potted Poplars are about 3 feet tall. I have one of those huge 4 ft. tall mesh rearing tents. I normally use it for the Monarchs, but they are done now. It's all cleaned up and I just plopped that whole little potted tree inside the tent. Won't have to worry about running out of food or keeping it fresh! Yay!


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Thanks for the misting information, runmede! I've lost more tigers than other cats, so maybe they weren't getting enough water.
Bandjzmom, they're a very lethargic caterpillar, at least compared with frisky ones like monarchs and gulf frits. Congrats on your find!!
Sherry


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Thanks Sherry. I thought that the Spicebush cats were pretty lethargic compared to any others that I have raised. Guess the Tigers are similar in nature. Boy, those GF's are REALLY frisky things, aren't they? I've got my misting bottle ready! I've only found the one Tiger cat in spite of several diligent searches today.~~Angie


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Angie, tigers are harder to find, even though they're just as common if not more so than spicebush swallowtails and others. I think it's because they lay most of their eggs high in the tulip and wild black cherry trees where we don't see them - I see tigers flying high all the time.
Sherry


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

I thought that was probably the case Sherry. If I had not happened to have these little 3-4 ft Poplar trees in pots, I wouldn't have one of them now. I wonder if I cut the little trees back each year how long they'd thrive in pots for me. We have had scads of Tigers through here this butterfly season, and I was so hoping that one of the females would notice my little trees. Thanks again for your help. The little Tiger spun himself a little web today, and he is sitting smack in the middle of it. It elevated him up off the leaf.~~Angie


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Angie, I ordered a tulip tree from Mail Order Natives early this past spring. It was only about ?9" tall, I potted it up, and I've had to re-pot it about twice, I think - it's now about 5' tall, so it's grown really well. I'll be planting it out while the weather is nice - I planted a plum tree today. I doubt that yours will last more than about ?2 years in a pot, because the roots will undoubtedly continue to grow fast even if you cut the top back. Of course, you could learn bonsai - it might live in a pot for YEARS that way! :)
Sherry


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

The misting trick was from Jim in Michigan. But, it really works.

Remember, they use Black Cherry, too. I didn't have much luck this year, but usually I net a female tiger and let her lay eggs. I use a 5 ft. net container and put in nectar sources, too. They like the host plant to hit the top of the cage. I keep them maybe two days and let them go.

I'm only raising one little tiger this year or should I say big. The caterpillar is huge. I found it on a tulip tree that I had in a pot. I got the tree from Lowes. I was shocked that they'd have a native tree. I'm always shocked when I see natives at Lowes. I even got a native Wisteria from them. I've had Silver Spotted Skippers using it as a host plant.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Congrats on your Tiger, Angie. You can successfully grow them on potted trees if you have lots of foliage, which it sounds like you do. It's a good thing you have a tent, as they tend to wander off of the plants. I've lost a lot of cats because I didn't have them enclosed.

I am wondering if the ones your are raising will overwinter. I've never raised any this late in the season.

Keep us posted.

Sandy


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Thanks guys. I know that these trees grow really fast, and they are abundant in the wild here. Maybe I could repot the trees and also cut them back. They were hardly a foot tall when my Dad gave them to me this spring. Now, they are both between 3-4 feet tall, and there are plenty of leaves. Even if he ate both trees completely, I could just walk across the street and gather some more food from the neghbor's yard or the woods there.
I was assuming that he would pupate and then overwinter as a chrysalis since it is so late in the year. Guess time will tell. I do love my rearing tent. I have 2 of them from the Educational Science site. (http://educationalscience.com/merchant.ihtml?pid=6696&step=4&merchantid=4&repid=0&passwordstatus=passed)
I have the biggest one and then also the smaller size. (which is still pretty big) I love that I can spray them down with bleach water, rinse well and dry, and they are ready to go again. Great product, I think. The biggest tent is 4 feet tall, and I think that you could get 2 people inside that thing!


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!!

Sorry, I could have tried to provide a hot link for the tents.

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterfly Farm Terrarium


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

I found on this list a source that has the larger cages $5 cheaper.

They also have the smaller one, but it is about the same price as Educational Science.

Small Cages

I use a large market umbrella on my deck for shade and that is where I am raising Spicebush, Tigers, Giants, and Black Swallowtails, plus some RSP.

Here is a link that might be useful: eNasco Large Butterfly Cage


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Thanks for the cheaper cage info. I do love those things. I keep mine on my side porch which only gets a little morning sun. Otherwise, it is shaded.
**Hey, I forgot to ask about HOW OFTEN to mist the little cat. I misted him today, and he sure perked up with the mist coming in.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Angie, woo-hoo! You've had a fantastic butterfly year.

My Tiger layed her eggs on my Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) potted tree. It got really large this year. They have a low survival rate, IMO. Out of 5 eggs, one survived and pupated. Of course, it wandered off the tree to pupate, so I didn't get to see it. Lots of things were happening at the time, like my daughter's difficult pregnancy and birth of my 2nd GD, so I didn't move it to an enclosure early enuff. The larva turned brown just prior to pupating, FYI.

I also have a Tulip Tree aka Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and planted in the ground last fall. It really didn't grow very fast this year for some odd reason. I have kept it watered well, but haven't fertilized it because it is noted for its rapid growth rate. Maybe I should have.

I hope I get to raise a few next year so I can actually witness eclosure.

Another habit I noticed was that the larva also rested in its leaf during the day and fed at night (I saw signs that it wandered off its leaf to feed at night and returned to the same leaf during the day). Seemed like it didn't want to feed near its home base. Did or has anyone witnessed this same behavior in raising Tigers?

Also, the cat didn't really "fold" the leaf, but rather, making a bit of a raised nest of silk, the design actually just created a "cupped" effect of the leaf. The caterpillar was much more exposed than I expected it to be. Maybe predators wouldn't notice that so much, but it was apparent to me that there was a caterpillar on the leaf, not really hiding from anything.

Susan


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

I mist them when I water the potted plants. Mist for the caterpillars, shower for the pots.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

UPDATE: Sad news. The little Tiger has passed. He did not survive. I do know that it wasn't anything that I did, but I am still very disappointed. I was so hoping to see it grow, pupate, and eclose. Oh well, maybe next year.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Angie, so sorry you lost your Tiger. They are quite difficult to achieve maturity and pupation with, IMO. I think MissSherry told me that there are few cats that actually survive the entire process, so I was prepared. All 5 of my eggs hatched; three made it to second instar; two made it to third; and the final one made it to 5th and wandered off to pupate. So, I had a 20% survival rate. That may be on the high side for these larvae.

Next year, you'll probably get more eggs, and more cats will survive. But, I take the death of my cats pretty hard anyway, even knowing it is probably nature's way of keeping the population within reasonable limits.

Susan


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

So sorry about your cat, Angie! :(
My success rate with tigers has been about ?50% - 60%, which is much lower than it is with others I raise. It doesn't look like misting helps after all. I've never misted any of my cats, because the heat and humidity are both high here, and misting would tend to cause more deaths, I'd think. So I'll keep doing it the way I've always done.
Sherry


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

The only problem that I've had with my tigers is spiders sucking the life out of them. I've been raising Tiger Swallowtails in large numbers for 2 years now. I find that misting also flushes the spiders and I then hunt them down.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

I kinda agree with MissSherry, I would be hesitant to "mist" my caterpillars. I think it would be okay when you're raising moths because they tolerate a lot more moisture than the butterfly cats do.

Speaking of spiders, I just saw a spider nab a skipper on the mistflower in the garden! Darned spiders! I have so much insect activity now that the mistflower and the asters are in bloom, its not funny! Lots of unknown, but colorful, diurnal moths, including my little yellow-collared scape moths, bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, you can almost hear them hum!

Susan


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

I have raised several tiger swallowtails in Virginia for 2 years now and have misted them and had great success. I had two eggs laid this year in the wild on a tulip tree. I enclosed them in netting on the tree. One didn't hatch and one did hatch. I put the small caterpillar on a small tulip tree into a container that I thoroughly checked for spiders. I even ended up changing from Tulip to Black Cherry and the whole time I misted, when I watered the potted plant.

They were in those 5 ft. net containers, but mine were under a beach umbrella/market umbrella--partial shade.

One Tiger doesn't make it and you all attribute it to the misting. Sorry, I've had too much success not to mist them, they love it. This actually mimics what happens in nature. They are out in the dew and rain sitting in their hammocks on the leaves.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

This is a photo that I took this morning of the Tiger Swallowtail pupa:

Photobucket

What's strange is it appears to have green moss type coloration. Looks just like a piece of bark.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Wow! Clearly, we didn't advise you not to mist your Tigers; we just stated that it is not something we would prefer to do based on our own experiences with raising butterflies. And I would venture to guess that MissSherry has raised too many caterpillars to count cuz she's been doing it like, forever....for many moons.....probably in a past life, LOL! I've been doing it for 6 years now. Two (2) years is not a very long time relative to many contributors' experience raising butterflies here on this forum.

Susan


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

I've been raising butterflies and moths for 17 years.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Oh my. Well, I didn't mean to create any sort of rift by announcing the unfortunate demise of my Tiger. I only misted him once, and it was a very light misting. He was on an entire potted 3 ft tree, and the whole tree was inside a mesh rearing tent outside on my porch. So, there was lots of air passing through. It does rain on them in the wild, and they do survive. So, even with my limited experience, my common sense tells me that he did not die because of the misting. You guys say that they tend to be harder to raise and that their survival rate is lower than most. I do wonder about why that is. Does anyone know? It's just odd to me. I have never taken in a Black SWT or GF cat that did not pupate and eclose. Most of the Monarch cats also do well. Why are these guys so fragile? I have seen a blue million of the adults in my yard this season, so they are obviously having some reproductive success.~~Angie ;o)


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

As I said before, the biggest problem that I have had is spiders. They are really good at hiding. I found one in my container of RSPs, today. I got it out of there fast. The spiders go in tiny and after a while they are bigger once they've fed on your caterpillars.

A friend gave me a Tiger caterpillar in late spring. I put it into a net container with a small black cherry. The next thing I knew when I was checking on it, the spider was attacking it--too late to save it.

I check the trees thoroughly, but somehow the spiders sneak in.

I found a neat link on Raising Tiger Swallowtails.

Here is a link that might be useful: Raising Tiger Swallowtails


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Angie, I doubt it was anything you did or didn't do. Stuff happens, especially in raising butterflies. Nor do I think that your misting probably had anything to do with the death of your caterpillar. I didn't mean for you to think that your misting was the cause of the Tiger's demise at all. I honestly don't know that misting is a bad thing, it's just not something I want to do. Our heat and humidity, especially this summer, provided more than enough moisture, IMHO, especially since I was raising them outdoors amidst all that heat and humidity.

I just want everyone to know that there is more than one way to do things. I raised my cat(s) on the Black Cherry tree in a pot on my front porch. I didn't even enclose them cause the tree is too big for that. I don't know that misting would have helped or not since I haven't tried it. I just don't, at this point in time, believe that it would help. The decision is yours to make and no one elses. I'm not here to convince anyone to do it "my way". Even Lepidopterists will argue that "their way" is the best way and the only way. And who knows what is really working or not. One could get 10 eggs and have all of them survive, or 10 eggs and none of them survive. Who knows when we're dealing with nature. I also don't think that losing caterpillars in the small numbers that we do, is going to impact a large enuff number to have any great affect on the population overall.

We all take our losses to heart, though. I raise butterflies and moths because it fascinates me. I do it to learn and to marvel at the entire process of metamorphosis. There is nothing clinical about it for me. It is pure unadulturated joy and wonder. I kinda compare it to growing plants. I probably don't use the same soil, fertilizer, watering techniques, that someone else does. If my plant dies, does that make me wrong, or a failure? No. I might try something different next time, or I might just chalk it up to the fact that I didn't get a very good plant or one that had problems before I got it. All I said was "I don't want to mist my caterpillars". I hope I didn't imply that everyone should do it my way because my way is the only way or the highway cuz that's just not me. My motto is "live and let live", and we all have the inherent freedom to choose how do things.

You did nothing wrong, Angie, at all. And like I suggested, the fact that the caterpillar didn't make it, in all likelihood, had nothing to do with misting or not misting it. We love having you here and your enthusiasm and spirit. I just love reading your posts and you're doing a fantastic job raising your little ones. Keep up the good work.

Susan


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

There are so many reasons that caterpillars fail to thrive; for example, bacteria, viruses, funguses, predators, and parasites.

I don't mist all of my butterfly species. The Tigers and Baltimore Checkerspots are the only ones that I mist.

For example, Baltimore Checkerspot eggs need very high humidity to hatch. They take three weeks to hatch. I keep their plants watered and also mist the plant.

I was sharing my success. I don't expect every one to try my techniques. I'm thankful that my friend Jim in Michigan shared his technique with me.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Oh gosh Susan. Such sweet sweet words! Thank you so much for them. I am like you in that I do it for the wonder and love of it. I suppose that most people here enjoy growing plants as much as caterpillars. I enjoy trying my hand at growing new things, and my personal expectations are pretty high! I mean, if I can't make it grow, there must be some problem with the thing itself, right? (LOL) It can't possibly be that I failed at making it flourish! (LOL again) I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn from anyone who has blazed the trail before me. Experience is the VERY best teacher I think. I thank each and every one of you for your wisdom and willingness to share it here with me. I often tell my teen boys to open their hearts and minds, and close their mouths! It's often the key to learning and understanding. :o) ~~Angie


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Amen, Angie! It's cold here this morning and I need to get out and feed my remaining Monarch cats and my Manduca sphinx cats. It was just too cold this morning, so I delayed a bit hoping it would warm up some. Brrrr.......

Susan


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Talking about cold. I noted that a Pipevine Swallowtail had made its chrysalis on a Tickseed stem a couple weeks ago in my backyard. I was sure it would winter over. But, noted yesterday that it was coloring up to emerge. I ended up bringing it in today so that it could finish the process sooner. We have a few days of rain starting on Monday--thank you Nicole, but we've had enough.

Also, tucked some Black Swallowtails into a container of Rue on my deck. The deck is much warmer than the yard.

This all makes me anxious because I know that soon we will have cold weather and there is no way that these butterflies that are emerging will have time to finish another brood.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Misting, hmm? I wonder whether my Black Swallowtails could use occasional misting. I have an OK success rate with them, but I get several that get stuck trying to pupate and end up dead, half-cat and half-chrysalis. That seems unlikely to be pathogen related; I wonder if it's lack of moisture?

Add that to my list of experiments...

Jeff


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Those rearing projects are COOL!

runmede,

Thanks for posting the links to the rearing projects. Those are really, really cool. I'm psyched about trying to rear Gray Hairstreaks and Eastern Tailed Blues now.

Jeff


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Jeff,

I never mist my Black Swallowtails. I had one that pupated like yours. I could see the butterflies heart still beating, so I decided to keep the chrysalis to see what emerges or if it survives. This is the first time I've seen this happen.


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RE: My FIRST Tiger!!

Jeff, I've raised Gray Hairstreaks before. I always get plenty on my Texas Star Hibiscus and another pink flowering hardy Hibiscus that I think is Fantasia. I had a ton of them this summer. Had one the other day with a yellow spot on the hindwing instead of red.

Eggs are layed on a closed bloom and when it hatches it bores a hole in it and begins to feed from the inside of the bloom. So, they're easy to find.

Anyway, they pupate loosely in the bottom of a paper sack very nicely, and the pupae is about the size of a small bean. Very cute!

Susan


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