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04-04-2017, 12:09 PM - 1 Like   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
The Hyalophora is perfectly illuminated; a beautiful image,
Thank you

QuoteOriginally posted by pjv Quote
Thanks Brian. Welcome aboard this thread too mate. Wonderful images you have started with, thanks for posting them. I too find the little critters amazing. It fascinates me too how the insect life cycle works, as the pupal and larval stages of their lives bear absolutely no resemblance to the finished article.
It's crazy how quickly they adapt to totally new bodies! I was lucky enough to watch a few of the cecropia moths I released last year take their first flight (the freshly emerged adults will sit for hours as they harden, so you need to be very patient or lucky). They had crawled about their entire lives, but learned to fly after about 30 seconds of trying. Ok, one did fly headfirst into a tree, but after it got up, it flew across a field and out of my sight. I still haven't mastered my feet.

I do have some 'poop-like' moths, but that may be for another thread. I'll supply a pooperpillar for this one, it's a Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes. I'm on the northern edge of their expanding range, and was lucky enough to have a dozen or so eggs laid on our gas Plant, Dictamnus albus. Top photo is an early instar caterpillar (2nd I think?), about 8 days old and at it's poopiest (for size, this would be 1:1 on APS-C). After seeing this in person, I started examining and gently prodding just about every piece of poop on the tops of plant leaves I could find.

Bottom pair is pre-pupa and chrysalis. They normally loop that silken hammock under their backs, but this one fell out and just dangled.



04-05-2017, 01:18 AM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
Ok, one did fly headfirst into a tree, but after it got up, it flew across a field and out of my sight. I still haven't mastered my feet.

I know how you feel buddy !! Great story, and more excellent photographs too. Thank you for the additions to the thread. The genetics involved in this transformation intrigues me. Does a caterpillar know how to fly, and that information is passed on to the butterfly? Or is it when in the chrysalis, and it turns into a soup to be reconstituted as a butterfly do the genetics kick in. I will probably never know, but the question fascinates me. I am planning a trip to a butterfly enclosure soon and hope to get a few images of the varying life cycle stages there. Hope to see more photographs from you Brian ( and the other posters !! ) soon. Cheers.
04-05-2017, 04:16 AM   #33
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FYI: The coordination for flying is pretty much in the structure and genetics. It does not require "thought" nor "practice." It's commonly thought that baby birds need to exercise their wings and sort of "practice" flying in the nest before taking off, but not so. The following experiments were done back about in the 1950's. A young bird was slipped into a cardboard tube soon after hatching, preventing it's wings from moving while it was hand fed. When it reached fledgling size/age it was taken outside, the last & largest tube removed, the bird tossed gently into the air, and it flew away perfectly.

What is really remarkable about complete metamorphosis in insects: inside the pupa the developing insect is literally liquefied - no organs, legs, etc, just a soup of organic material.
05-05-2017, 11:21 PM - 1 Like   #34
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A couple of caterpillars from today. K3 & Macro Takumar 50mm Preset








Last edited by Arjay Bee; 08-23-2017 at 01:01 AM. Reason: update links
05-05-2017, 11:37 PM   #35
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arjay Bee Quote
A couple of caterpillars from today
Wonderful additions to this thread Arjay. Much appreciated, thanks.
05-16-2017, 08:19 PM - 2 Likes   #36
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Purchased a Swamp Milkweed online. Wanted to do my part to help out monarch butterflies.
Today was planting day. Turns out 11 out of the original 20 leaves are gone. The plant has
not been outside since it arrived in the mail. Close inspection found this little caterpillar.


Little Passenger by Roger Knief
05-16-2017, 10:33 PM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by rgknief60 Quote
Purchased a Swamp Milkweed online. Wanted to do my part to help out monarch butterflies.
Today was planting day. Turns out 11 out of the original 20 leaves are gone. The plant has
not been outside since it arrived in the mail. Close inspection found this little caterpillar.
An excellent addition to this thread, and my education Roger. Much appreciated for both.
05-17-2017, 05:11 AM - 2 Likes   #38
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Please excuse my adult Vanessa virginiensis on the left, she is busy ovipositing on Anaphalis margaritacea (k5iis+da*300). The result is on the right, a yellow-green egg about 0.6mm wide (k5iis+dfa100mm+raynox250).

This is a tray of 'for sale' plants. We will point out the caterpillars to butterfly lovers and explain that inside a few weeks the plants will likely be decimated and horrendous looking, but we'll have butterflies. The plants will recover. We gave up growing Pearly Everlasting years ago as they would always get trashed and no one would buy them. Public awareness of how the larval stage of butterflies need host plants is on the rise, and I'm happy to say we have a large enough customer base that is willing to accept plant damage to support our local butterflies that it's worth growing again. I'm slowly trying to work moth appreciation into the mix...



QuoteOriginally posted by rgknief60 Quote
Purchased a Swamp Milkweed online. Wanted to do my part to help out monarch butterflies.
Today was planting day. Turns out 11 out of the original 20 leaves are gone. The plant has
not been outside since it arrived in the mail. Close inspection found this little caterpillar.
Nice! I hope you have another source of milkweed, it sounds like the caterpillar is going to out-eat your plants. They can strip small plants pretty quickly, especially in their last instar.

05-17-2017, 05:38 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
Please excuse my adult Vanessa virginiensis on the left,
No apologies needed Brian, as having " mother " doing what mothers do is a wonderful addition.
Thanks for posting another excellent and informative series mate.
05-17-2017, 12:24 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
I hope you have another source of milkweed, it sounds like the caterpillar is going to out-eat your plants.
I have a butterfly weed. Since both the caterpillar and Swamp Milkweed would die if I left it on the swamp milkweed, I put it on the butterfly weed (tuberosa).

Twenty-four hours later it had not eaten. These caterpillars are picky eaters. One writer indicates the swamp milkwwed is among the tastiest to monarchs,
and no monarch caterpillar that has eaten another variety of milkweed will eat tuberosa. The fact it started on SM may preclude it eating on any other
variety. I went out looking for wild milkweed, found some, and put a stalk in a vase and put the little caterpillar on it. Hopefully it will be acceptable.

The seller from whom I bought the SM is OOS. Even if they were IS, I can't afford to buy enough little plants to feed this little caterpillar to maturity.

Last edited by rgknief60; 05-17-2017 at 12:29 PM.
05-17-2017, 07:35 PM - 1 Like   #41
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Some caterpillar species are definitely picky. I know I've had no problems swapping monarchs over to A. syriaca or to A. tuberosa from either of these plants or from A. incarnata, but I don't think I've ever tried moving one to A. incarnata (it's a better seller, so less likely to be sacrificed to visiting caterpillars). I'll have to give it a whirl this summer...

Another possibility - most species of caterpillars I've reared tend to sit around doing nothing for a day or two when it's time to shed and advance to the next instar, so that could explain the lack of appetite (you'd know shortly).

Finally, you might have luck finding a less expensive local source of milkweed, the tropical A. curassavica should be pretty common at most nurseries. I've fed it to monarchs with no problems.

Good luck!

I should include a photo, here's a Monarch caterpillar toppling over an A.syriaca seedling:


Last edited by BrianR; 05-17-2017 at 07:44 PM.
05-17-2017, 08:35 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
the tropical A. curassavica should be pretty common at most nurseries
There is an issue with A. curassavica being a carrier for a monarch disease. After reading this article in
Science
I don't think I'd risk planting it, especially in the Southern US.

The plight of the monarch is bad enough that the US Fish & Wildlife Service is doing a status review under
the endangered species act
.

QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
Another possibility - most species of caterpillars I've reared tend to sit around doing nothing for a day or two when
it's time to shed and advance to the next instar,
I'm encouraged by your experience. I found a stand of some 10+ wild milkweed plants, so I'm all set if
the caterpillar will switch it's feed.
05-18-2017, 04:06 AM - 1 Like   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by rgknief60 Quote
There is an issue with A. curassavica being a carrier for a monarch disease. After reading this article in
Science
I don't think I'd risk planting it, especially in the Southern US.
The problem is creating year-round populations of milkweed and monarchs where there shouldn't be any. If your climate is warm enough, A. curassavica will stick around after your native milkweeds are gone, and this may encourage Monarchs to linger in the area and possibly not migrate at all. This allows butterflies with heavier loads of the OE parasite to survive as they don't have to face the rigorous migration which would otherwise have killed them off (taking the parasites with them to the grave), and allows the OE parasite to winter in quantity in your area on the plants.

It's not A. curassavica specifically that's the problem, it's how its growth cycle differs from the area natives. Easy solution - cut it down when your natives die back, and especially pull the seed pods as they ripen. I only offer it as an interim solution if it's available and affordable - its probably the most common species in garden centres. If you have a place where your A. incarnata is happy, you should be able to easily propagate it from seed and be swimming in the stuff in a few years.
05-19-2017, 11:34 PM - 1 Like   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
I know I've had no problems swapping monarchs over to A. syriaca or to A. tuberosa
Update: The little caterpillar definitely did not like the wild milkweed on which I placed it.
Found it crawling six feet away on the baseboard of the sun porch. Took it back outside
and placed it back on the A. tuberosa yesterday. Today I saw it had eaten half a leaf!

Picture of the A. tuberosa from last year. Milkweed bugs almost destroyed it. I was surprised
to see it back this spring.

Last edited by rgknief60; 05-19-2017 at 11:43 PM.
05-27-2017, 06:09 AM   #45
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A couple from the vegie patch today. Unknown species to me. Thanks for having a look.
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