Viewing tabasco's Garden Diary: Ohio DNR Common Butterflies & Skippers of Ohio
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Notes on Sap, Skat, Carrion, and Baiting Butterflies
From Ladobe on GardenWeb:
Gimmicks are designed to attract buyers, not necessarily what they claim. But your "bath" is probably serviceable if you fill it with substrate and a nutrient source.
Might help to know that Lepidoptera get all the moisture they need from things like nectar, sap or rotting fruit (depending on species) except in extreme cases along with the carbohydrates, simple sugars, proteins, etc in nectar. When they puddle, they are usually not after the moisture but rather things like electrolytes, salts and other nutrients that are contained in the moisture. They can also "puddle" by regurgitating onto a dry mineral rich medium and then lap it back up with the now dissolved nutrients.
By far the most attractive "puddles" to most leps species are the ones that contain feces/urine, especially from an organism that fed on fish. That also makes these puddles the least attractive to the butterfly gardener if they are down wind of them. If you are uneasy about using the real thing, just make a mash out of fish and keep it moist. Beer mash or soup is a good substitute if rotten fish is too much for your garden. Fruit mash also works well for some species. Almost any grain or cornmeal is a great additive to make the mash, and they add benefits for the leps.
On all the trips to collect leps in the tropics to obtain ovum from, a good way to get a huge assortment of species in a very short time was to pick a spot in a narrow flyway and urinate right on the trail. Literally in a minute they start coming in, and soon you could be engulfed by hundreds of individuals. Add that for most of the species that never come down from the canopy (200' up), its the only way to get them unless you want to try to get up to where they are. Baiting works very well in the tropics, and reasonably well in NA too. It also works very well for the nocturnal fliers too (moths) that won't come to lights. I have several bait traps I made that have hung in trees in many countries over the years.
However you choose to go about it, providing a place for leps to puddle is a huge benefit to them and adds greatly to all the nectar sources you already provide for them. Another benefit is it can also give you lots of very close photo ops as most species will linger at a puddle far longer than on a nectar source.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
CB&SO is a wonderful little brochure covering all the basic butterflies and skippers around here. It is indespensible for anyone in the Ohio River Valley who is trying to learn more about butterflies.
It is free for the asking: just call or e-mail the DNR in the link above and ask for a few copies (to give to other neophyte buttefliers).
Here is a list of Host Plants for Ohio Butterflies compiled from the CB&SO brochure:
List of Ohio Butterfly Host Plants Compiled from the DNR Butterfly Pamphlet
Queen Anneís Lace
Members of the Laurel Family
Smooth Rock cress
Non-native pea family
Black Oak (young)
Pussy Willow and other willows
Common Milkweed and other milkweeds