Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Zebra Longwing Chrysalis 9.23.14

The Zebra Longwing caterpillars are much more friendly to each other than either the Monarchs, Queens or Gulf Fritillaries. These seem to prefer being close together. There are 6 just in this one spot. (taken 9.18.14)


While I was taking pictures of the caterpillars a Gulf Fritillary started to emerge. I keep them in the same Butterfly House since the Passion Vine is the larval plant.


A few minutes later….


A few more…..the large abdomen contains fluid that is pumped into the wings.


It’s getting slimmer….


You can see the difference between the two bodies in this one. Both chrysalis in the picture had butterflies emerge the same day. You can see they are starting to get clear and lines in the wings are becoming visible in the one on the R.


Back to the Zebras.  I took this on 9.19.14         Getting bigger.


Took this on 9.22.14.


Yesterday I had one take the “J” formation on one of the vines.


Today it pupated. Pictures aren’t very good…maybe next one will be better. There are 7 others about the same size. Hopefully one will decide the top of the cage will do.

I did notice that it turned a light reddish brown before it pupated.


It is gradually “shrugging” it’s skin to the top where it will twist around until it throws it off.


Weird looking little thing.


I cut these pieces from a wild plant that grows along the road. While looking for tiny caterpillars or eggs I spotted this chrysalis.


I am glad I’m very careful when taking cuttings. I noticed this yesterday but thought it was a piece of dead leaf….a closer look today revealed it is a Zebra Longwing chrysalis.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our First Passion Flower 9.16.14

This is the first Passion Flower on our new vine. Isn’t it beautiful. Debbie has several on hers and it is full of buds.


I had 2 Gulf Fritillaries emerge this morning and I just released them. There are about 8 more Chrysalis in the Butterfly House and another 8 caterpillars.

They continue to amaze me. One day the will be pointing to the R and the next day to the L. I still haven’t been able to tell when they are going to emerge. I put little stickers with the date above each one as it pupates so I will have some idea. They do not seem to get crystal clear like the Monarchs and Queens. My first one emerged after 8 days but the next 2 took 10.


The Zebra Longwing caterpillars are starting to grow some. There are 3 or 4 that are almost 3/4 of an inch long now and showing the white with black spikes very plainly.


They should start doubling in size each time they shed their skin now. I don’t know if they take longer to mature than the Gulf Fritillaries or if it just seems like it since they are new to me. ….but seems like I’ve been waiting forever and they’ve a long way to go to Chrysalis…at least another week.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Zebra Longwing caterpillars 9.14.14

On 9.9.14 a few of the Zebra Longwing eggs hatched. Here are 2 little ones. They are yellow when they are this small.


A few more but they are really hard to see. I have to use a magnifying glass. There are actually 3 in the circle on the R.


Today is the 14th and this caterpillar is starting to grow. It is about 1/2 inch long….white with black spikes. You can see one that is much younger on the R and a couple munching on the leaf on the L. I have one leaf with 5 on it of varying sizes. They seem to like being together.


Still have about a dozen of the Gulf Fritillaries in here and a dozen Queen caterpillars in the other house.

Cant wait to see this one pupate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Butterfly House for Zebra Longwings & Gulf Fritillarys 9.6.14

When we saw the Zebra Longwing laying eggs on the Passion Flower Vine…028csJim decided he’d build me a Butterfly House for them and the Gulf Fritillarys. They both use the Passion Flower Vine as a larval plant.

The Zebra Longwings lay their yellow eggs on the tips of the new growth. The Gulf Fritillarys lay on the leaf.

We used lumber that we already had so they did not come out alike, but the Passion Vines don’t need as tall a house. I have a Giant Milkweed that is put in the Monarch/Queen house when I have a lot of caterpillars…even then some of the stalks have to be bent over.


We have wild Passion Vine down the road …I cut some and put it in a vase and moved the vase with the cuttings from Debbie’s plant into their new home.

The plant on the L is much coarser than the one from Debbie…but both are accepted by the caterpillars.


While we were building the house I had a Queen and a Gulf Fritillary they were almost ready to emerge so I set the camera up while we were outside. I just missed the Queen emerge but caught the Gulf Fritillary and also a Queen caterpillar pupating at the same time.



This little one has just shed it’s skin…you can see it behind him, and his spikes are still light. They’ll be black in a few hours.


Not a good picture of the Zebra Longwing but you can see both are interested in the Passion Flower Vine.


Here is a flower in the Butterfly House that is just starting to open. They are about 3” across when in full bloom. Beautiful flowers.


We can sit in the screen room and watch the Honey Bees, the caterpillars grow and Hummingbirds feed on the Jatropha Bush and the Bottle Brush. Every now and then a Raccoon will check us out. We keep hoping the Bob Cat will stop by but haven’t seen it in the back yard yet.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tiger Swallowtail

One of the biggest wingspans that come to our yard. Most of the Swallowtails are black with yellow or blue and they flutter their wings when feeding…not so the the Tiger Swallowtail. It sits there as if posing for pictures.


It has a beautiful yellow fuzzy body, with big eyes.


I believe the orange spots at the base of the blue indicate this is a male.


This Jatropha bush is always busy in the morning. Lots of Peacocks, Swallowtails, Monarchs, Queens, Gulf Fritillarys, Sulphurs, Zebra Longwings and even a Viceroy visit.

The only thing I have seen the Honeybees come to this bush for is the pollen.

Even the underside of the wings are beautiful.


Here’s a close up of the body …


I believe the Sweet Bay Magnolia is a larval plant. We do have some wild Magnolias behind the tractor barn but I cant get high enough to see if there are caterpillars on it.