I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:55 pm

I do want to say that the swallowtail caterpillars aren't as repulsive as I first thought. I have various pairs of magnifying glasses and because for some reason I cannot walk by a caterpillar of any kind without checking them out with a flashlight and one of about 6 pairs of magnifying glasses I have managed to look at the new little babies many times in the last few days.

Considering I can see their little faces quite clearly I am happy to report that their faces are indeed cute. Kind of shiny with little eyes and they seem intelligent. Looking around and exploring, etc. It's their bodies that are rather ugly, which are designed to protect them from predators. How many living creatures want to dine on bird poop after all? My guess is - not many.

Also, they are much slower than Monarch caterpillars.


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ShiftyMutt
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby ShiftyMutt » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:29 pm

Hey, I thought I'd let you know that I bought a double Milkweed plant today and it has 4 eggs on it so far that I can see. I shall raise it right.

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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:29 pm

That is wonderful news ShiftyMut! Image

You are a good person and I am sure you will be rewarded with observing the miracles of nature. The process from egg to adult butterfly is truly fascinating.

Not long ago (last summer) I was talking to a nurseryman who brought home a milkweed. He, his wife and 86 year old mother-in-law watched a Monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. His mother-in-law was enthralled and said it was the most wondrous thing she had ever seen.

After the butterfly emerges it must hang on for dear life and wait for the contents of its stomach to pump into its wings. The wings must be hanging down and touching nothing. After that it must wait for several hours (about 5 to 8 hours) for its wings to harden so it can fly away. They try out their wings after they harden - several times.

If anything is in the way of the wings they will be molded into that shape and cannot fly.

Good luck, I know you will love it. :D
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ShiftyMutt
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby ShiftyMutt » Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:44 pm

Thanks for the info. This was a little unplanned but I'm looking forward to watching it all. I'm easily entertained :)

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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:14 pm

The caterpillar is now a chrysalis. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to emerge as an adult.

I think it is a Pale Swallowtail.

It's hard to get anything done with crossed fingers, but I am hoping it is healthy and strong. :D
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:15 pm

So far, I have not seen one Monarch egg or caterpillar this season.

Where are you guys?
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Fri May 01, 2015 1:46 pm

I did see a Monarch butterfly a couple of days ago. First one this season. So, I am checking the milkweed daily for eggs and babies.

babymonarchcaterpillar hatching from egg.jpg
babymonarchcaterpillar hatching from egg.jpg (2.84 KiB) Viewed 1060 times


After hatching they usually turn around immediately and eat part of the egg. Then they are off to find more milkweed. I am speaking of my indoor raising of Monarchs.

Some of them will stay on the leaf with the egg, but it is more often the case that they will climb to the top of the container to look around. Sometimes standing up. One of the cutest things I have ever seen. So tiny and so smart.
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Fri May 15, 2015 3:47 pm

The swallowtail butterfly emerged three days ago and I released it the next day. Want to make sure its wings have dried and its ready to fly.

I was wrong, it was a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, about 4 1/2" across and just beautiful.

Image

Image

As part of Mother's Day my kids and I went to an orange grove in Escondido so that I could hunt for caterpillars and eggs. But, not a one was to be found in all those trees. I have to say that I was profoundly disappointed, I had visions of Swallowtail caterpillars dancing in my head. :(
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Fri May 15, 2015 3:49 pm

Monarchs are active again, I have about ten baby caterpillars and eggs. Pretty slow, but it's been cold so maybe it will pick up when it's warmer.
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Fri May 15, 2015 4:07 pm

Just as a matter of interest I found photos of swallowtail caterpillars in their defense mode. They have little antennae/antler looking structures that emerge from their heads called osmeterium. They also emit a horrible smell at the same time to scare off predators.

My little boy (I checked, it was a male) didn't do that so he felt safe.

9-8-12-giant-swallowtail-caterpillar-img_4405.jpg


Another factoid, Giant Swallowtails can measure as much as 6" across. The largest butterfly in North America.
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Sat May 16, 2015 3:26 pm

Shifty Mut: Thanks for the info. This was a little unplanned but I'm looking forward to watching it all. I'm easily entertained :)


Just wanted to caution you that you don't need to worry if your caterpillars are motionless for a couple of days. They position themselves often upside down (head pointing downward on a stem) or on the underside of a leaf and stop eating for about two days and don't move. They are getting ready to molt. Once they shrug themselves out of their old skin they rest for a few hours (it must be hard work), then they will sometimes turn around and eat it. Mine often don't, but sometimes they do. It's supposed to be good for them.

Another thing is that when the caterpillar has become a chrysalis, DON'T TOUCH IT! Because the chrysalis is full of liquid inside and if you even touch it lightly it will break, the fluid will leak out and the chrysalis will be dead. It takes about two days for the chrysalis to harden. If you want to protect the chrysalis inside, after two days slide a razor blade or sharp tiny scissors where the silk is attached to the wall or whatever it is attached to. Wrap some dental floss carefully but snugly around the stem and hang it up someplace safe. In two to three weeks the butterfly will emerge.

It usually takes about ten minutes for the butterfly to climb out of the chrysalis. If the butterfly has a disease or is unhealthy it will have a struggle getting out of the chrysalis. Sometimes the chrysalis sticks to their bodies and they cannot get it off. The butterfly won't survive. The kindest thing to do to stop the suffering is to gently put the butterfly in a zip lock plastic bad and put it in the freezer. It will go to sleep and eventually die without pain.

The same thing applies if you see a caterpillar writhing in pain. Don't mistake this for wriggling out of its skin when molting. But really writhing in obvious pain. Turning itself over and over and back and forth. This usually means internal parasites that will eventually eat their way out of the caterpillar's body. Put the caterpillar in a zip lock bag and freeze it. Once it is dead put it in the garbage and not outside in your yard. You don't want to potentially be spreading pathogens outside.

It's tough surviving Mother Nature.
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ShiftyMutt
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby ShiftyMutt » Sat May 23, 2015 3:48 pm

Thanks for the tips.

I found a couple caterpillars on the milkweed. Apparently wasps will eat them, so now in order to insure their survival I need to buy one of those thingies to keep them in? I didn't mean to get all caught up in this but it is kind of cool.

Also, saw this today

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/ ... -migration

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Parrotpaul
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Parrotpaul » Sun May 24, 2015 7:39 am

I found this guy eating my lime tree.

Image

Image
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ShiftyMutt
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby ShiftyMutt » Sun May 24, 2015 9:11 am

Paul, do you know what kind that is? From pictures it doesn't look like a monarch.

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Parrotpaul
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Parrotpaul » Sun May 24, 2015 9:25 am

I have no idea.
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MDDad
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby MDDad » Sun May 24, 2015 10:07 am

Paul, I'm pretty sure that's a black swallowtail.

https://www.google.com/search?q=black+s ... CAYQ_AUoAQ

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Parrotpaul
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Parrotpaul » Sun May 24, 2015 10:10 am

That's probably a good call, MDDAD. There have been several Black Swallowtails around the tree this Spring.
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Brooke
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Re: I Just Discovered Swallowtail Eggs and Caterpillars!

Postby Brooke » Sun May 24, 2015 2:22 pm

Found this on the internet.

could you tell me what this is?
hi I live in california Southern….and found this guy..but would live to know what it will turn into.

This is an Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar. They resemble Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, but as you live in Southern California and that is the range of the Anise Swallowtail, we are sure it is the Papilio zelicaon. The orange horns are an intricate defense mechanism. If the caterpillar is disturbed, it rears up and reveals these orange fleshy organs that release a foul odor.

swallowtail_anise_cat_horns.jpg
swallowtail_anise_cat_horns.jpg (18.49 KiB) Viewed 981 times
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