Ask an Expert: Butterflies

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This topic contains 65 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by SandraRW SandraRW 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 66 total)
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  • #5270337 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Thought you might like to see my latest baby! The swallowtail baby that is.. To get a perspective on how small they are when they emerge from their egg, the photos get closer and closer to him…

     

     

     

     


    #5270410 Report Abuse
    deb
    deb
    Participant

    wow!


    #5270446 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Nice Black Swallowtail, Sandra! These are so fun to watch, because they look different each time they shed their skin. (I like to refer to them as “costume changes”!)  Here’s more info for anyone who’s interested: http://www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/focus-on-natives-eastern-black-swallowtail/


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

    #5274434 Report Abuse
    narnian
    narnian
    Participant

    Jill…

    I am in zone 5 (northern Indiana) and only saw one Monarch this year…but today I was out looking at bees on my butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and saw a very tiny caterpillar, which I am assuming is a monarch. It was eating the flower, which I thought was odd, I would not have noticed it otherwise…

    It couldn’t possibly grow and become a butterfly this late in the season, could it? (and it has been so cool…got down in the 40′s last night!)

    Anything we can do when this happens? and why does it happen?

    Thank-you,

    Linda Z


    #5274454 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Linda – Even in zone 5, your monarch caterpillar still has plenty of time to grow into a butterfly and begin its journey to Mexico before winter. On chilly nights like the ones you’ve been having, the caterpillars crawl down the plant to the soil, which stays warmer than the air. They can even weather a frost or two, if necessary. Within a month, your monarch will be winging its way south, with any luck! Learn more about the timeline here in an article I wrote for the magazine a few years ago:  http://www.birdsandblooms.com/gardening/attracting-butterflies/diary-monarch-migration/


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

    #5276313 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    Two more Monarch caterpillars found today!!!!!!


    #5276704 Report Abuse
    narnian
    narnian
    Participant

    Jill…thanks for your reply…I have never been able to grow butterfly weed before…but it grows amazingly well here. I am really enjoying watching the caterpillars grow….I will take a picture of them sometime.

    One of my favorite butterflies is the buckeye…I read about their host plants, but except for plantain (which I hate) I know next to nothing about the others…can you tell us anything about American bluehearts?(Buchnera Americana)…Is it terribly invasive? What would you suggest for zone 5?

    Thank-you so much

    Linda Z


    #5277343 Report Abuse
    SandraRW
    SandraRW
    Participant

    I got carried away today by one hungry Black Swallowtail eating on Parsley…so precise…so organized…I hope you can see the video. I made it on You Tube

     


    #5277382 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    They are so fun to watch, aren’t they? I love their complete single-mindedness when they’re eating. Terrific video, Sandy! Thanks for sharing!


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

    #5277387 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Narnian – I love buckeyes too. They have a pretty wide variety of hosts, including plants in the snapdragon family.  I don’t know much about bluehearts, but native ruellias, like wild petunia, are a host. They also use toadflax and frogfruit here in Florida, but those might not be found by you. Do a web search for “buckeye butterfly host plants” and take a look at some of what other folks recommend, especially in your area. These are really neat caterpillars – here are a few I have raised:



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

    #5288319 Report Abuse

    Luvbirds_PA_F
    Participant

    Jill, less than a week ago, I released three Monarch Butterflies; two males, one female. Sunday afternoon my husband and I found fifteen cats on our milkweed. They are all in my house. I’m concerned because I live in SW Pennsylvania and wonder what the weather will be like in a couple of weeks. What is the coldest temperature a Monarch can withstand? I am also hoping and praying that I have enough milkweed! Do you happen to know if there are places in a warmer climate that would take the cats for me if they don’t stand much of a chance of survival? The weather is in the 60′s for the most part right now. I never, ever expected this to happen, and I have never had so many cats. Thanks for any help or advice you can give me.


    #5288383 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    Luvbirds – Congrats on your caterpillars! It is late in the year for monarchs in your part of the country to be laying eggs, but the weather patterns have been so strange over the last year or two it’s good to hear that monarchs are continuing to reproduce.

    Monarchs can handle temperatures down to freezing, and they can even withstand a few days below freezing, but not much more. When the weather gets very cold, they head down to the ground, which is warmer than the air. The caterpillars eat for about two weeks, so depending on the current size of yours, they will be done eating very soon. Then they generally spend two week in chrysalis. Yours should be done and on their way south within a few weeks, which should give them enough time to get out of SW PA before the weather gets really cold for good.

    I don’t recommend keeping them in the house. They will do better out in the open air, even if you have a frost or two. The only time to worry is if your temps will drop below 35 consistently for many days in a row.

    Hope this info helps. Your butterfly garden is obviously doing a great job helping butterflies!


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

    #5288534 Report Abuse

    Luvbirds_PA_F
    Participant

    Thank you very much, Jill.


    #5292566 Report Abuse

    JSong
    Participant

    Wow, very interesting, Jill. Thanks for starting this thread. I’ve read all the posts & looked all pictures.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing and adding to the post!:)

    I used to have many varieties of butterflies, but they’ve been disappearing these past few years.

    Something else came up & I really need an answer to the question: are there any flowers/plants/trees that will attract hummingbirds & butterflies, but NOT bees??

    I now have a grandson. We just found out that my son-in-law’s father is allergic to bee stings. My mother-IL is too. They both must wear Epipens.
    My father’s brother died from a bee sting at the age of 8 yrs old. Thus, my baby grandson may have their genes.

    My nursery man who has a university degree told me to take out all of the plants I bought from him or elsewhere which attracted the hummers, butterflies, & bees.

    I have started this task. There’s a salvia that’s so hard to get rid off. It attracts many hummers, but a lot of bees too.

    No allergists will test my grandson. So I don’t know what else to do….

    Thanks for any advice.


    #5292743 Report Abuse
    Jill Staake
    Jill Staake
    Keymaster

    That’s a tough one, JSong. To my knowledge, any plant that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds will also attract bees. Be aware that bees visit many plants that hummingbirds and butterflies don’t, including roses. So really, you would have to eliminate all flowering plants from your yard, including any clover or dandelions that might grow in your grass.

    I’m obviously not qualified to offer medical advice, but I will say that while yards with butterfly gardens also have bees, the bees in those gardens are usually too busy going about their business to be interested in stinging anyone. I’d seek advice from a medical doctor before doing anything drastic in your yard. After all, the world is full of flowers and bees, and avoiding them completely is basically impossible.

    Best of luck to you, and to your grandson, as you deal with this issue.


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

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