Has anyone had experience with growing this host plant in a container? Initially, I thought to put it in the ground but i have read that the plant attracts ants that attack the Sulphur caterpillars and so i'm thinking that i could control the ants better if the plant were in a container. Or possibly you have grown this plant and ants have not been a problem?
Senna mexicana var. chapmanii (aka Bahama Senna, etc.)
No experience with that plant here in my area, but it shows to be "threatened" in Florida. Maybe you can sow some of the seeds outdoor this fall and try to propagate the plant there. I would suggest not to put anything on the plant for ants because it will kill the Sulphur butterfly larva and adults. Ants are usually attracted to plants for the sweetness where aphids are. I haven't read up on this plant, hope they don't harm the sulphurs.
Thanks Sheila...i assume the plant is native to Mexico and probably grows wild all over the place here :-D. It is an outdoor plant and of course i'll grow it outdoors but in a container. I do not use anything harmful to insects in my garden because it is a butterfly garden. When plants are in a container, i can see the ants running up and down the container to get to the plant and so i can kill them on the container, not on the plant, by spraying them with a little soapy water or hand squishing. I had a Senna alata planted in the ground that was enormous (well about 10' x 10') and it was very hard to control the ants. The Sennas seem to have little "sweet" sacks at the base of the leaves that attract the ants. I don't know if this is true of all Sennas. I never saw aphids on the plant. But the ants (and parasitic wasps) are known to eat the Sulphur eggs and small caterpillars (and sometimes the big ones). What i'm aiming for is that the ants don't eat them all. This is why i'm getting a smaller Senna that can hopefully be container grown. At any rate, it doesn't look like anyone has experience with this species of Senna so i'll experiment with it and maybe i can increase the Sulphur success rate. In the meantime, here is a photo of one of the few survivors from the S. alata.
Nice! Looks like an Orange-barred Sulphur maybe? I don't see many of those here.