Ask an Expert: Butterflies

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This topic contains 57 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Luvbirds_PA_F 5 days, 15 hours ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 58 total)
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  • #5146713 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Sandra’s right… that is a gorgeous Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus). The big “eyespots” on the lower wings help it look big and scary to predators at night. They are in the silk moth family. Here’s another shot. Notice that the center of the eyespots are clear – what you’re seeing is the membrane that makes up the wings, since the center of those eyespots lack the scales that give butterflies and moths their colors.

    We raise these every year at work. The caterpillars are bright green and nearly the size of hotdogs by the time they’re ready to become a cocoon! (Moths make cocoons, butterflies make a chrysalis.) They stay in cocoon for many months, since in most areas they have only one or two reproductive cycles a year. Polyphemus caterpillars eat tree leaves from oaks, willows, maples, birches, and more.

    Such a great find, Steve! Thanks for sharing. You can learn more about this moth here, if you’re interested: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Antheraea-polyphemus


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5146766 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    very interesting

    I like the Butterflies and Moth website. In fact I have an image posted there a few years back of a Long Tail Skipper.  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/732315

    I thought I would paste a photo I also took a few years ago at a Catepillar Workshop I attended at the NC Museum of Science. I came up with  the idea to photo the Cecropia through a magnifying field lens with my camera lens resting against the glass. I think it turned out unique. 


    #5146770 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Jill, This is the type of milkweed I have planted. I have found a few nurseries in NC that claim to have the more native kinds. One day I will do a “road trip” adventure  and look at their plants


    #5146793 Report Abuse
    steve232__nc
    steve232__nc
    Participant

    Sandra theres what I think is a milkweed growing in a field next to my yard. Its got to be native because there are a few of them here and there in the fields around here. They don’t have a flower nearly as pretty as the one you posted but the flower it does have sure is attractive to butterflies and bees alike. I’ll attempt to remember to take a picture of it in the next few days.


    Community Team Member
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    #5146849 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    If it turns out to be milkweed, save the fluffy seed pods and I will send you my address for some, please. I will send you postage money.

    I probably could have had some on our farmland but the guy that plants the fields, just sprayed weed killer on all the unplanted fields…Grrrrrrr. I am going to look around the edge of the woods and see if I can spot any. I am also going to look around my parents old home in Kannapolis too. There has got to be some growing wild somewhere.


    #5146957 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Sandra – First, that Cecropia photo is fantastic! What a great way to frame a shot. I love it.

    Second – Yes, that milkweed is Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). In my experience, it doesn’t reseed as readily as some others. It’s native to the tropics (Mexico and south), so it’s a probably a little out of its element by you. A favorite species in much of the country is Asclepias syriaca, usually called Common Milkweed, which has pink flowers and bigger leaves, and grows very well from seed.

     


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5147100 Report Abuse
    steve232__nc
    steve232__nc
    Participant

    Sandra here is what I think is a wild milkweed but I could be wrong. Anyway its  not got a beautiful flower but the flower that forms at the top does draw a lot of butterflies and bees to it.



    Community Team Member
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    #5147183 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    It looks like milkweed to me too. I just found out that my daughter has planted swamp milkweed and butterfly weed in a buterfly garden at her park ( she is a park ranger)  I may have a source for native seeds after all. I also followed a link on the NC Native Plant Society site and there is a few places in NC that might have some varieties. All my tropical milkweed that I started from last years seeds is really growing. Here are some pics of part of my little plants basking in the sunshine. 


    #5147322 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Steve – Your photo looks like Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

    Sandra – Glad you’ve found a native source of seeds! There is a lot of debate in the butterfly community about whether using non-native milkweeds could be bad for monarchs. At this point, I’m personally of the opinion that some milkweed is better than no milkweed, but if you can go native, then you definitely should.


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5147341 Report Abuse
    steve232__nc
    steve232__nc
    Participant

    Jill when I was taking that picture I realized there were two smaller ones growing next to it. I dug them up and moved them to an area outside my garden that only gets part sun. One of them broke off but even so I got some really good looking roots with it so I am thinking it will come back from those roots and the other one is looking good this morning. Hopefully they will do well in that area and its where I can let them grow and spread a little. Now if the monarch’s will appreciate my efforts lol.


    Community Team Member
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    #5148730 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Jill

    I am so excited. I wrote a proposal for our garden club and junior garden club to be part of the Monarch Watch free milkweed plant program (to receive milkweed to plant that’s native to our area) . I got news that we will be receiving our milkweed plugs next week. We will be planting a butterfly garden in our local park. Yeah, native milkweed!!!


    #5149573 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Sandra – That is so cool! Would you be willing to take some photos of your plants and installation and then tell me more about the experience? I’d love to write a piece for the Birds & Blooms Blog to let others know about this program. If so, drop me an email and we can talk more about it.


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

    #5149585 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Yes,  Iwill keep you updated on the progress and photos when arrive and the planting. Hopefully we will have a good  journal of the activities too.


    #5151879 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Jill , I will be emailing you some info and photos around the end of the week/weekend. The milkweed arrived last Wednesday and is reviving from their journey ( I took photos of that too), We plan to plant our butterfly garden on this Thursday… if the weather will cooperate.


    #5151880 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Sandra – I can’t wait! I look forward to hearing from you. Good luck and have fun!


    Jill Staake (florida33girl@gmail.com)
    Birds & Blooms Community Manager
    Tampa, Florida Zone 9b

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