A stranger came to visit

Longboat Key, FL

It wouldn't stop for a second. But is still hanging around.

Rather large -- larger than our normal Gulf Fritillaries. Yellowish-orange and black -- with one prominent inverted black triangle, centered on its body, on its wings.

Ii have gone through 37 sets of photos, with 30 more in the set -- and no luck.

I am on a barrier island off of Sarasota.

Does anyone have a clue/

(o_O)

Kissimmee, FL

Did you happen to notice what plant it was hanging around?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I am sure you know what the Giant ST looks like so how about these for consideration. Anise http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/go/344/
and Thoas butterflies http://community.webshots.com/user/photoop23/tags/thoas-swallowtail-butterfly/photos .

Longboat Key, FL

It was closest to the Thoas swallowtail -- but I did not notice a "swallowtail." Also, the front was straight, not curved as is the Thoas.

The distinguishing mark was actually a real black, equilateral (1-1/2 inches each side)triangle , pointing down -- with an orangy-yellow border all around it. It was a full four inches across the top.

I have nothing in blossom, but it was bouncing off of a kumquat tree. It hung around all morning -- never alighting long enough for a photo.

Maybe I'll get a photo -- if it hangs around.

Be well

(o_O)

Longboat Key, FL

Nope.

The black triangle has an orangy border completely around it.

And all the edges are straight.

He/she is not around today.

But -- thanks for trying..

Be well

(o_O)

Longboat Key, FL

Now i see strange cats in my parsley.

What are they?

Help!

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

They are the beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly larva. I raise them and they are a joy to watch.

They start out looking like this when they first hatch out of the eggs.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

This is their final stage.

Just went back to your picture and see a first instar cat like the ones I showed on the left side of your picture!

This message was edited Jun 10, 2011 4:29 PM

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Longboat Key, FL

Are you sure?

They don't have those thin stripes like mine.

Be well

(o_O)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Flyboy...Yes, very sure. Here is a link that shows the different colors the cats go through. Look about 1/2 way down the page. http://www.glorious-butterfly.com/black-swallowtail-butterfly.html I am not promoting this site just saw that it had the pics to explain. Happy gardening!

http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/showimage/2287/ Here is DG link for BST where Beckygardener from FL shows different instars.

This message was edited Jun 10, 2011 10:06 PM

Kissimmee, FL

Flyboy, Mrs. Sheila nailed that for you 100%

Longboat Key, FL

Sheila

Thank you -- thank you -- thank you. (And Viceroy -- too)

One hundred percent.

They are beautiful things.

Maybe it is that stranger that visited.

I have been used to seeing only the Gulf Fritillaries on my island.

Thank you -- again. I definitely owe you one.

Be well

(o_O)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

My pleasure....You be well too fly!

Longboat Key, FL

Sheila:

I hope you are there.

Now I have problems.

This is "The Ranch" where my Swallowtail decided to raise her crop

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Longboat Key, FL

This morning the left parsley was denuded of leaves -- and two cats were morosely clinging to the stalks.

I snipped the stalks and move them over to the surviving parsley.

Here are a couple of the twins, later in the morning. There were several more -- but, maybe the lizards found them.

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Longboat Key, FL

Not only was I concerned, but the Mother swallowtail has been hovering around watching the denouement.

See her in the left corner of the photo!

Now, what'll i do? Do I have to buy fresh greens and add them to the plant? Should i find a screen to cover them?

What will I do? What will I do?

I am hooked.

Be well

(o_O)

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Miami, FL(Zone 10b)

She is still laying eggs. If I was you I'll try to get some more parsley and dill plants since that's their host and more readily available in nurseries at least down here. If you don't want them to dissapear on you I'll suggest that you raise the caterpillars separately in an enclosure such as an upside down mesh hamper and provide some twigs for them to pupate on. I had them last summer and I love their chrysalis. Remember to leave some plants out for the momma to lay her eggs on. Ohhh and if you try to touch them you'll see the funny orange protrusion and then the smell of dill. Best of luck to you.

Longboat Key, FL

But when do they stop eating?

There are six of them.

And, how long before their metamorphoses?

Be well

(o_O)

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Miami, FL(Zone 10b)

They stop eating usually a couple of hours to a day before they go into their final stage and become a chrysalis. They bigger ones should be about ready. They also eat the leaf stalks so don't be surprised to find your plants eaten to the ground. I would advice to get some more plants at a nursery or HD just make sure that they are not sprayed with pesticides or insecticides. Like I know that Bonnie's are supposed to be grown organically.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Yea! Another convert to protect the butterflies! Fly, Roly is telling you correctly, the larger ones may be ready to pupate. But the tiny ones and the fresh eggs that momma has left will need to have more plants. Young cats will take to a different plant like fennel, rue, or dill; if parsley isn't avaliable. The older ones will likely pupate.

I use the glad containers for raising cats of all butterflies with a piece of wet floral foam. I cut the top and replace with thin weaved fabric, but any container will work. If left on their own you may not see the chrysalis because they crawl off quite a ways and sometimes up walls. They take about two weeks in the chrysalis to adult butterfly. Hope you try one.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Longboat Key, FL

You didn't tell me about the little black, round b-b's that start to litter the floor of the cage.

Be well

(o_O)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL!! ROFLOL!! Frass happens!!

Longboat Key, FL

I have five in the cage. Three are already tied to twigs with their safety belts on.

How many days before I find out whether they will be boys or girls?

Be well

(o_O)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

They stay in the "comma" formation one day then the chrysalis forms the next day. After that usually takes 12-14 days but BST are very unpredictable especially later in the fall.
Make sure they have enough room to hang and let their wings harden without touching anything. I prefer to scrape the silk off after they harden and pin them to styrofoam in a more open cage from my smaller plasticwear. Hope all goes well with your charges...if you get pictures please post them.

Longboat Key, FL

OK. Now i think that I will have to get a helper to assist me in the Autumn of my life.

Here is my setup -- so far.

The babies are in the plastic box (from Walmarts).

The wooden thing with chopsticks is going to be set inside the "net thingy" (from Amazon) that is coming in the mail. The twigs that are being used for the morphing will be taped to the chopsticks. (When the "net thingy" arrives).

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Longboat Key, FL

I think that I got started just in time.

Here are the first two, which are already on their way. They were really ready!

The kleenex is for what they ate (their last meals) which they didn't need.

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Longboat Key, FL

And the last three. two are still in a coma -- but one (on the left) is already on his/her way.

Now I have to buy new parsley plants for the new eggs evidently left behind on the chewed-out pasley.

Boy, does this keep one busy. I thought that we had it made when our nest first emptied.

Be well

(o_O)

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Well looks like you are on your way to your "new obsession"! It was flustrating in the beginning until I found my niche of what worked best for me and I know you will too.

I am not sure what median you have in the bottom of the cage, but it looks like it could be dangerous for little cats. If you can find this try it. Cut a block and cover it with Glad plastic wrap or other such. It will make a good wet base to stick stems of parsley into.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I just place a piece of paper towel in the bottom of the cage and sit a piece of this in a container and cover it. I prick holes for the pasley with a toothpick. When it needs more moisture you can use a spray bottle with the nozzle on a hole.
This is an old 2007 picture of when I used sticks (parsley was removed). But I found them not necessary and just scrape the silk off the sides of the cage and put them in another cage to emerge now.

Oh, and the different colors is from what is around when they form their chrysalis.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Longboat Key, FL

What are not necessary? The sticks?

I will try to find some of that foam -- maybe at a florist shop. Four of my cats are in crysalis stage. They are in pairs, on two separate sticks. The fifth one was on a twig of parsley, but fell off and is still twitching, so I laid him on the top of a new twig. His top still looks OK, but the feet look fuzzy.

You wrote that you "scrape the silk off the sides of the cage." Is that where they form, without sticks?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from flyboyFL :
What are not necessary? The sticks? [/quote]
Right they didn't always use the sticks, so I quit putting them in there.

Quote from flyboyFL :
I will try to find some of that foam -- maybe at a florist shop.
Foam can be found at craft / hobby stores.

[quote="flyboyFL"]The fifth one was on a twig of parsley, but fell off and is still twitching, so I laid him on the top of a new twig.

The one that fell may have been in the process of shedding skin, if disturbed may not make it. If it was ready to make chrysalis it may have been parastitized by wasp or fly that deposits their eggs. Either way...it is probably a goner.
On the silk...they put down a silk pad when they start to make a skin change and also when they start to pupate. The pic shows previous skin it crawled out of.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from flyboyFL :
You wrote that you "scrape the silk off the sides of the cage." Is that where they form, without sticks?

The stirrup or thread is attached and banded around their middle. If you see one make a comma on a STEM, it is best to carefully move it out of the cage so other cats don't knock it off. Once they are in that stage, they won't crawl off, so you can pin the stem on anything until it is formed and hardens.

If it is on the side of the cage they usually wonít bother it. After it is hardened, then you can use your fingernail and scrape the silk, grab the edge and peel it off. What I do then is use straight pins to fix it on foam inside a open cage where it can emerge and itís wings harden. Here is two older ones (empty) but maybe you will see what I am trying to say. The Styrofoam is wrapped with a material to help them grip better when they emerge. I have it pinned to the inside of a net cage.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Here is one on the inside of the plastic cages I use where you can see the silk pad and stirrup clearly. It scrapes off easily from the plastic.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

This was Monarchs one year. I had hot glued their cremaster (end of chrysalis) to the fabric, but after that pinning has been the way to go.

Monarchs are much more fun. The take exactly 10 days in chrysalis form, and start to turn dark the night before they emerge.

Thumbnail by Sheila_FW
Longboat Key, FL

The new cage

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Longboat Key, FL

And the four patients.

One week down. One week to go.

Be well

(o_O)

Thumbnail by flyboyFL
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Fly...look at you! I am so glad you didn't give up! The most rewarding part is releasing them!

Longboat Key, FL

How long do you keep them inside after they have hatched?

Do I have to give them food? Water?

Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

I am soooo jealous!! I had one small 'crop' of Black Swallowtails last month, but nothing since then. Our weather has been brutally HOT with little rain.
Glad you have gotten interested in the 'flies, Flyboy. Are you still growing starfruit?

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