August 09, 2022

Went looking for bees but found this instead.

The little garden space I asked for your help designing includes dill, parsley and Golden Alexander, all host plants for Swallowtail butterflies. Our backyard is so small, the entire potager is literally three steps out my kitchen door – a giant glass slider – so that's how I happened to see a butterfly laying eggs.

Small carpenter bee (Ceratina) foraging on dill weed. 07/22/2022
Do you see the butterfly egg? I didn't see it until I was going through my bee photos. I know this is a Ceratina because it has a small yellow mark on its face, not visable in the photo.
3rd instar caterpillar on Italian parsley. 07/30/2022

After finding a caterpillar in the jaws of a spider, I brought every caterpillar I could find inside and set them up with Oui jars like I did in 2019. This time, though, we had to go out-of-town for three days so instead of a daily top up, I had to guess how much food they needed. Turns out not much, just a few sprigs each.

5th instar caterpillar on Golden Alexander, which is native to the eastern US. 08/05/2022
We left with four 3rd instar caterpillars and returned to find three 5th instar caterpillars. It seems the natural mortality rate is high. This time they're the green variation.

Prepupa showing signs of final molt, small cracks in the cuticle (the lining of the trachea tubes are being pulled out of the spiracle openings) and loss of color. 08/07/2022

Attached to the inside corner of popup hamper, I could only get a dorsal view video but I'm just elated that we got to see it happen!

The transformation from prepupa to chrysalis took about 6 minutes, the last 3 being a whole bunch of wiggling until the shed skin fell to the floor. 
Swallowtail chrysalis color-matched to its environment. 08/07/2022

We've got three chrysalides in the hamper, and I'll post an update when they emerge. The Internet says anywhere from 7-20+ days. How about a Butterfly Pool? I think Monday the 15th and there will be 2 males and 1 female. What are your guesses?


Don said...

Very cool! I didn't find any this year - I think we have too many wasps around plucking them off before they get past the egg stage. I'll go for Tuesday the 16th, 2 females, 1 male.

HB said...

@Don, I did not think about wasps as predators but come to think of it, I have seen some carrying caterpillars, presumably to provision their young. As for the pool, we ended up with two birthdays, the 16th and 17th, and all three were male!

For my birthday, we went to a local nursery to pet Lucy the cat, and I came home with some rue with a big "cat" and milkweed with two Monarch eggs on it. They're my first, so I'm nervously excited about them. 😬

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