Saw a couple of beauties today...both firsts for my yard.
There are plenty of others out today, we will see what the afternoon hours bring.
Daily pictures #99
Yup, that's a Southern Dogface! Beautiful photos as usual!
Thanks for the gorgeous pictures and variety of BFs. The dogface sulphur is a beauty but the dog sure is ugly. The queens convention which you posted earlier is something I would love to see in nature.
Your Sleepy orange shows the colors for the late season which is a reddish brown to brown coloration of the forewings.
I hope you have a record number of species to keep us posted on this winter.
Thanks for the new thread Russell ...and the great pictures!
Exciting news everyone! The museum where I volunteer bought some Malachite butterflies for the flight cage so I got to release some of them today. And of course, I took pictures thinking of you guys. Malachites have been reported as far north as Sarasota, but that's still a good hour and a half below where I live. It's always super neat to see a butterfly for the first time.
Gorgeous, Melanie! I'm green and black with envy.
Russell - the sleepy orange is what I raised last summer on the senna.
Not much aloft here, but when it gets warm enough the neighbor's bees are on my camellia bush. :)
I still have 4 or 5 BST overwintering. Will see them in March or April I guess. :)
beautiful photos of the Malachite mellie...some of them appear to be as large as White Morphos. what do you have as food for the Malachites? i've read they like rotten meat and dung sometimes and maybe rotten fruit? And what are you using as a host plant upon which they can oviposit? gosh, i'd love to see some photos of the caterpillars (all instars). they are only very occasional visitors to my garden and i'd like to be able to attract some without having to leave rotten meat out.
We don't have any host plants for it as far as I know. We did put out a feeder with some oranges and bananas on it but it was too cold today for them to be moving around much. It was kind of fun because I could just pick them up and they didn't protest. I never got to see the caterpillars as they were shipped as chrysalises. There's only one photo of the cat in the Bug Files but it looks really cool. It would be awesome if you could attract some to your yard!
Thanks mellie...if you don't have host plants, how are they going to reproduce? or do they just die off and someone orders more chrysalises? or not? that seems so sad considering a butterfly's primary goal in life is to be able to reproduce...a book i have says Acanthaceae will host the Malachites so i'll see what i can find that will fit in the garden.
Here's a shot of the Malachite larva. They definitely will not use just any plant in the Acanthaceae, but their favorite that I use is Green Shrimp Plant (Blechum brownei). Larvae will eat various types of Ruellia, but the only one I've ever gotten females to oviposit on is Red Christmas Pride (Ruellia amoena), which is pretty hard to find.
Dallas County Lepidopterists' Society
thank you lepfarmer, very much! i do have wild ruellia (species unknown) from a neighbor's rancho and some crescents and other small butterflies use it but a malachite has never gone near it. i was looking at various kinds of Acanthaceae and liked the Green Shrimp Plant (Blechum brownei) the best so i was happy to hear your comment about it. Blechum brownei is listed as being native to or naturalized in Mexico and i use native plants as often as i can. so now i will look for this plant...the hard part will be finding a place to put it...always i am thinking "i can squeeze just one more plant in...somewhere."
I am sure after the info you shared Dale, that Melanie will be on the search for Green Shrimp Plant to bring into the flight area! LOL!
I loved seeing the Malachites in the Tropical Exhibit when it was here.
The pictures are great Melanie and Dale!!
I guess this batch was just a special thing and the manager at the museum doesn't plan on having them for successive generations. I agree, it's kind of sad. All the other butterflies we have are native to just this immediate area and we have host plants for them. We usually don't buy butterflies either; I thought it was kind of unusual since we make a big deal out of how we raise our own butterflies at the museum.
Melanie...maybe you could sneak a green shrimp plant in and hide it in a corner somewhere...the Malachites will find it but the manager might not :-o
That's funny - sneaking in a host plant . . . but what if she gets caught?! :P
Thanks for the images and information Dale. I haven't looked but expect that this species may be out of my range.
Hope all's well. Just checking in. :)
well Amanda...there are over 650,000 DGers behind her and only one manager who, as i see it, doesn't have a chance against that many gardeners ready to provide alibis ... she must remember to wear gloves and not to spit on the plant so there will be no fingerprints or DNA should an investigation ensue :-D
I already got yelled at once a few weeks ago so I'm trying not to do anything else to get in trouble. We were totally out of food for the Great Southern Whites so I went to buy some cabbage at the supermarket next door. I guess it was treated with Bt because she lost some. She made it sound like they all died but when I came in the next weekend there were still a lot of cats and chrysalises. She was all like, "Why didn't you call? My number is in the lab." But it isn't. But I figured I would just overlook that and keep my mouth shut. Of course, now we have lots of cabbage planted in the garden and it's totally the wrong time of year for the whites to be out. I think she must have gotten those from a farm because I have never seen a Great Southern White in the wild here. So I'm laying low and trying not to stir the pot (and I'm a natural pot-stirrer, LOL).
Hum, that's interesting about the Great Southern Whites Melanie. A few years ago I planted some pepper grass (lepidicum virginicum) for the Great Southern Whites and so many butterflies came and laid eggs and pupated and the food supply was getting so low but they just kept coming and laying eggs and finally i had 30 or 40 GSW caterpillars only about half way to pupating with no food. I also went to the store and bought cabbage for them. They ate the cabbage and got bigger but only a couple of them pupated, the rest just got bigger. It was such a mystery to me and now i wonder if it was because the cabbage was not organic. It also occurred to me that perhaps they did not respond well to the diet change. I really don't know. But i am more careful now about messing with mother nature.
Ah, i understand about the manager...and causing a brawl in a butterfly museum would be unseemly... o well it was fun to think about "the caper in the butterfly museum" :-D
Guys, I lost roughly 50 Monarch caterpillars last year having fed them milkweed purchased from a nursery ... I was so saddened. I learned the hard way. The plant that I purchased looked healthy with Monarch hovering on them and young Monarch cats on them eating the leaves. Once I brough it home and feed to my cats. They got bigger yes, but eventually dried up and couldn't pupate.
Thanks to all whose butterflies are still present, and your sharing of the photos. It's colder here where we're. No butterflies here since late fall.
Sorry to hear that. It has been cold here too. I saw some American ladies the other day, but the light was terrible and the pics were subpar so I didn't bother. Spring will be here before we know it!
Interesting comments Lily...I too have been through caterpillar famine, massive loses to parasites, etc. etc. and for sure my conclusion is that butterfly gardening is not for sissies. So why do we do it when sometimes it breaks our hearts and leaves us with lots of holes in all our plants. ragtag gardens, and feeling helpless? I do it because butterflies are loosing habitat at an alarming rate where i live and they are pretty close to the bottom of the food chain. And there are failures that leave us sad, but there are also successes which leave us joyful in addition to no end of surprises. By creating habitat that wouldn't otherwise be there, we provide them with opportunities to survive. Maybe some of you have different ideas about why we plant butterfly gardens (like it is just plain fascinating or)? The Monarchs and Polydamas Swallowtails arrived in my garden in November of this year. Usually groups come in the Spring months and Winter months. The winter Polydamas are in their third generation. The first two generations were very successful but this third generation has been suffering from parasites (the origin of which i have not yet been able to determine) and caterpillar after caterpillar is leaving the host plant to start pupating earlier than it should (even though there is abundant food), and not being able to make chrysalises. The Monarchs on the other hand will have quite a good number of healthy successful butterflies. At the same time all the various Passiflora butterflies (with the Zebra long-wings being more abundant than usual) seem to be doing as well as can be expected and popping out of the dense Passiflora vine with regularity. It looks like i might get at least two mating pairs of Polydamas.
I think "Butterfly Gardening is Not for Sissies" should be a bumper sticker.
great idea Mrs_Ed and a good way for some of the butterfly orgs to earn some money? :-D
Took these yesterday around my garden...hard to believe in the beginning of January...that last one is a Oleander moth and it is chomping away at my desert rose, not too happy about that. Zebra longwings are fluttering all over, but haven't been able to capture a photo of one of them.
This message was edited Jan 4, 2013 11:32 AM
I had two more Zebra Longwings emerge today. When I went out front, the two from yesterday were STILL attached to each other. It's kind of cool and dreary today so I understand them hanging out in the same place but I thought for sure they would be finished by now! I even picked them up and tried to see if they would break apart but they didn't. I put them back on a flower so they could at least have some food in the meantime, LOL!
Thanks for the id on the oleander moth cat! I saw some of those in Cozumel during the summer and thought they might have been some type of Fritillary, but could never find the id. I had no idea they would eat desert rose. As for the love birds...err bugs...that you found Melanie, that seems like a very long courtship. It is dreary and cold here today and nothing at all in flight. The sun might peek out for a bit tomorrow, so hopefully there will be some sightings. Stay warm!
Russell, both the oleanders and desert roses exude a milky sap when broken, I was wondering if the two plants are related. Come to think of it, the sap is very much like that of Milkweed's excretion when injured.
You know Kim you're right about that milky sap, kind of interesting. The caterpillars completely ate my oleanders clean, not one leaf on either one of them. Now they're working on this plant which is in the back yard quite a distance from the two oleanders which are in the front yard. I've never had them on my desert rose before, guess they find what they can. There was only one and now there are two...not sure I want to let them devour my desert rose...I was going to let the one go, but if more come...well....
Those two Zebra Longwings were stilll together this morning so I gently picked them up and pulled. I honestly think they got stuck. I didn't have to pull very hard and they came apart. This afternoon they were gone along with two others I released yesterday (I had them all on the bougainvillea by the front door) so I hope they all flew away.
Melanie (butterfly doctor, as needed, LOL)
Doc Mellie makes me think of that song, "You and me baby are stuck like glue". Glad you got them separated. ☺
enjoyed all the pictures and posts. Had my first monarch pop out this morning. Put him/her in the greenhouse with flowers. Not too cold here, so hope it will survive to fly south.