July 27, 2013

Monarch or Viceroy? by Mrs. Blackburn

The most vivid orange and black butterfly was dancing around my home flower garden this afternoon. It could have been a Monarch. It could have been a Viceroy. Click here to see a comparison of the two using Google Images. After you compare the two, take this quiz to see if you can tell the difference.

July 6, 2013

A New Visitor to the School Butterfly Garden by Mrs. Simpson


It seems that this little bee is taking time to enjoy the purple coneflowers in our butterfly garden.

July 4, 2013

My First Black Swallowtail Sighting by Mrs. Simpson

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

While working in my yard, I caught sight of my first Black Swallowtail Butterfly this year.  Grabbing my camera, I was able to get this pic. He was flying close to the ground and did not stay in one place too long at a time.  I am not sure if this is a male or female.  Does anyone have an idea? 

July 2, 2013

Caterpillar has Attached and Formed a Chrysalis by Mrs. Simpson

Second caterpillar hatching station

My 3rd and most recent caterpillar has attached itself to a branch placed inside this hatching station.
Based upon what I have read, he is in the pre-pupa stage.  Thanks again to an idea from Mrs. Blackburn, I used a mesh laundry bag with drawstring to enclose my caterpillar.  No more leaving it uncovered and exposed to the elements.

Pre-pupa stage (June 30)

Compare the two photos above.  Do you see how the caterpillar has come away from the branch?
And the next  day, what do you think I found? A chrysalis had formed before I knew it.  See the picture below.

Chrysalis (July 1)
The chrysalis is brown like the branch to which it is attached. The chrysalis can be either brown like this one or green depending upon its surroundings. The string of silk that you see was spun by the caterpillar and serves as a safety line to hold the chrysalis to the branch.  And now the caterpillar is going through many changes inside the chrysalis.  It is in the process of becoming an adult butterfly.  In 1-2 weeks, the butterfly should begin to emerge,  and  I will wait patiently.

July 1, 2013

Where Can You Find Caterpillars? by Mrs. blackburn

How many butterfly eggs can you spot? There were several on the dill that my sister-in-law gave me. They look like tiny, tiny, light yellow balls. Butterflies lay eggs on the host plants their caterpillars need to eat. If you are going to hatch them in an enclosure, it is important to give them plenty of the plant you found them on. 

You can see in the photo below that I planted parsley, fennel and dill in pots as well as some in the ground. If I want to move eggs or a caterpillar to the hatching station, I can move the potted plant into the enclosure too. 

Look carefully for butterfly eggs on the plants in your own yard. Sometimes you might even find eggs on the underside of leaves. It didn't take much time after planting my own butterfly garden at home to notice more and more butterflies coming to my yard. More butterflies equals more eggs.  Since finding eggs on the dill, I've noticed them on other plants too. You just have to know what to look for. 

 You can see how one hungry caterpillar devoured the parsley in the photo below. When I say to be sure you have enough of the host plant to feed them, I really mean it. 

If you are really lucky like Mrs. Simpson, you can also find caterpillars on plants at the store. She hit the jackpot in the plant display at Alco. She found four of these Black Swallowtail caterpillars among the parsley. She was so excited that she bought all the parsley they had. I was happy because she let me adopt one of the caterpillars she found.  

He is huge!

The caterpillar spent two days eating parsley. June 30 it crawled to the highest spot he could find to prepare for a chrysalis. 

This is what the chrysalis looked like on July 2.

Look what I found the morning of July 12! A beautiful black swallowtail butterfly was drying its wings on the inside of the enclosure. I unzipped the hatching station and it crawled out onto the top, fluttered its wings for about two or three minutes and flew away. 

This tiny caterpillar was on a fennel plant I bought at Markum's Nursery in Moore. 

While you are waiting for Mom or Dad to finish shopping in Walmart, go to the garden center and hunt for caterpillars.