Butterfly Gardening and Conservation Blog

August 31, 2003

Baby spiders

Still pretty rainy today, but there were Monarchs around still and some Hackberrys. I took more pictures of the mystery caterpillars today. Right after one molted and right before the other one did. The biggest one was around 1.4/1.5 cm long right after molting. I got fresh sassafras for the Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars too. They are doing fine.

4th instar Giant Swallowtail right after molting.

The really big spider must be female, a big group of tiny spiders are now near her.

I added pictures back to the entries from the 22, 24 and 25.

Posted by butterflygirl at 07:58 PM

August 30, 2003

More rain

Today was saturday and I volunteered at the Butterfly House again this morning. It was kind of rainy and real cloudy, so I didn't see many butterflies. There were a few Monarchs around, a black form female Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Ladys, Red Admirals. Nothing I didn't already have a picture of.

At home, it was still cloudy didn't see many butterflies here either. A couple Monarchs were flying around and a Hackberry. I saw some dark swallowtail like butterfly fly around then leave, it was flying very, very fast. Don't know what kind it was.

Didn't get any pictures of the growing caterpillars today, will take some tomorrow. I did finally get the false nettle planted though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 10:04 PM

August 29, 2003

Big spider found

It was rainy today.

2 butterflies emerged from their chryslids, 1 male Monarch, 1 male Black Swallowtail.

Later in the day I found a really large spider by the creek, I don't know what kind it was. We got pictures, hopefully they will turn out ok and the spider can be identified by them. I never seen one in the wild that is so big.

Large spider

The mystery caterpillars are now about 1 cm, 3 mm (1.3 cm) long. One of the Spicebush Swallowtails caterpillars has gotten to the stage where it is green now.

Last instar Spicebush Swallowtail

Posted by butterflygirl at 09:58 PM

August 28, 2003

More Black Swallowtails

This morning 3 Black Swallowtails emerged from their chrysalis! All 3 were female.

3 recently emerged Black Swallowtails.

Took pictures and measured the mystery caterpillars, one had just molted and was about 1 cm long. The other molted later in the day.

3rd instar Giant Swallowtail right after molting.

I haven't even seen the Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars in a couple of days. They tend to hide in leave in the daytime and eat at night. I should check on they soon and make sure they are ok.

Saw mostly Monarchs today, and a Painted Lady. Late in the afternoon I saw a Tiger Swallowtail too. Still haven't seen another Red Spotted Purple, or Questions Mark or Comma, or a Viceroy at all this year. I'd really like to get some pictures of them.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:16 PM

August 27, 2003


We finally got some rain today, not really enough but something anyway.

This morning 3 Monarchs and 2 Black Swallowails came out of their chrysalids. One of the Monarchs was male, the other 2 female. One Black Swallowtail was male, one was female.

Female Black Swallowtail

Male Black Swallowtail

I saw two monarchs in the yard mating, I took a picture but I don't know how well it will come out since I couldn't get real close.

2 Monarchs mating.

I got lots of pictures back today, I will post them soon!

Posted by butterflygirl at 06:00 PM

August 26, 2003

More butterflies

Three male Black Swallowtails emerged from their chrysalis' today. I'm still concerned that they are coming out so late in the year and not overwintering as a chrysalis.

More Painted Ladies were flying around.

Always lots of Monarchs!

I walked down by the creek and saw a Monarch nectaring at the flowers of a plant growing on a sort of island forming withing the creek. At the same time a small snake swam through the water and onto the same little island. While that was going on a squirrel scampered by, stopped at the edge the creek and took a drink of water. I'm so glad we live by a creek! It's so full of life, and yet some people consider it to be no more than a sewer!

Here's a good gardening blog, I came across the other day:
Mike's Garden Muse. In his Aug. 18 entry he mentions:

'The sprouts have been ravaged by caterpillers, there are loads of them. As we like the butterflies that they are hatching into, we have left the insects to their own devices. The buddleia were covered in red admiral and cabbage white butterflies this weekend, I've never seen so many butterflies in one place. '

I'm jealous, I don't believe I've seen any Red Admirals at my house yet this year!

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:33 PM

August 25, 2003

Two Tigers and a surprise Monarch chrysalis

Another Black Swallowtail emerged today. I didn't see what sex it was.

A Monarch came out of its chrysalis also.

Then, when looking around the yard I saw a monarch hanging upside down on our shed. I went over to look more closely. It had just emerged from its chysalis that it had formed on the overhang of our shed! I can't believe I didn't notice it there!

Monarch hanging on side of shed.  newly emerged Monarch hanging on side of shed.

Two Tiger Swallowtails were nectaring in the garden at the same time this morning. That's unusual for me. Later around noon, I saw a Tiger on the white butterfly bush, exactly where one had been earlier in the day. I don't know if it was the same one that was still there, or another one.

Three Monarchs were flying around the garden at the same time. That's becoming pretty common, lots of Monarchs around.

A couple of Painted Ladies were flying around too.

A hummingbird came and got nectar from the cardinal flower in my garden while I was standing and watching just a few feel away.

One of the Tiger/Giant Swallowtail caterpillars - whatever they are - molted today. I got a picture right afterward.

Mystery caterpillar shortly after molting.

Took some pictures of the Spicebush caterpillars too. They are getting big!

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.

Posted by butterflygirl at 10:10 AM

August 24, 2003

Black Swallowtail emerges

One Black Swallowtail emerged from its chrysalis this morning. I had expected these to over winter.

Black Swallowtail butterfly shortly after emerging from chrysalis.

I finally finished getting ready the area in my garden to grow false nettle. It took a long time to find a source of seeds, and then even longer to get them to germinate. False nettle is used as a host plant by Question Marks, Commas and Red Admirals (and maybe others). I hope to get some of the plants planted in there tomorrow.

A beautiful Buckeye was hanging out in front of the house nectaring on the sedum for a long time. I took a few pictures of it with its wings open. I hope they took ok, it didn't leave its wings open but a second at a time.

Buckeye Butterflye.

Posted by butterflygirl at 10:09 AM

August 23, 2003

Giants may not be Giants after all

While volunteering at the Butterfly House today, I saw a lot of butterflies. Mostly the usuals though, Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails, etc. I saw a Zebra Swallowtail also, but wasn't able to get a picture of it. A real pretty Red Spotted Purple was there too, nectaring at a butterfly bush, but again I couldn't get a picture of it in time.

The big news though - I found a small caterpillar on a Hop tree while I was there. I figured it was a Giant Swallowtail and gave it to the entomologist working there for their caterpillar exibit. He said it wasn't a Giant Swallowtail, but instead a Tiger Swallowtail! Anyway, it looked a lot like the two I have at home. So maybe I have Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars rather then Giant Swallowtails too!

Later at home I released two Monarchs that had emerged from their chrysalids. A couple Painted Ladies were flying around too. And of course the usuals, Monarchs, Hackberrys.

I added back some pictures for the Aug. 20 entry.

Posted by butterflygirl at 10:08 AM

August 22, 2003

Giant Swallowtail eggs have hatched!

Finally, either last night or early this morning the Giant Swallowtail caterpillars or whatever they are, hatched from their eggs! I took pictures, but it will be a few days before I get them back.

Mystery caterpillars shortly after hatching.

I added pictures to some of the older entries the past couple of days - Aug. 19, 17, 16, 15, 14. More still on the way.

I now have caterpillars of 4 different species of butterflies in my enclosure - Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails and Giant Swallowtails!

As usual, Monarchs and Hackberrys were flying around the garden. I also saw a Painted Lady. I wasn't outside too much though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 06:22 PM

August 21, 2003

Too hot!

It was so hot today I hardly went outside. Didn't see many butterflies when I did either. Is it possible for it to be too hot for butterflies?

I did see Buckeye again today though, it may have been the same one from yesterday. It's wings were pretty beat up though, it must have had some sort of trouble since yesterday. I had my camera, but it wouldn't sit still long enough for me to take a picture.

Saw the Pipevine Swallowtail again. Not much else though, except Monarchs and Hackberrys. Oh, I forgot to add yesterday that I saw a Question Mark too. This ones wings were real nice yet. I went to get the camera but it was gone when I got back.

Here is a puzzle for you:

How many Black Swallowtail caterpillars can you find in this picture?

See answer to
Black Swallowtail Puzzle

Posted by butterflygirl at 06:11 PM

August 20, 2003


I saw a Buckeye butterfly in my garden today! I got one picture of it with it's wings closed before it flew away. I'm sure I'll see more though - I've got a nice spot in my garden just for Buckeyes, I hope they like it!

Buckeye Butterfly side view

Another Monarch came out of its chrysalis today, this one was a male.

Male Monarch

That same Pipevine Swallowtail keeps coming back again and again to the same lantana flowers! Still no eggs though.

The possible Giant Swallowtail eggs haven't done anything yet either.

Posted by butterflygirl at 03:38 PM

August 19, 2003


I saw a Pipevine Swallowtail in my garden today! It was the first Pipevine Swallowtail I've seen around here, or at least the first time I've recognized one. It kept nectaring from the lantana we have growing in containers on our deck. Then it goes back to a tree and rests and comes back again for more. I tried getting some pictures, don't know how they will turn out, he wouldn't hold still for very long! I say 'he' because I couldn't find any eggs on my pipevines, so I guess it's a male. A female would be laying eggs. He's probably hanging around hoping to 'meet' a female Pipevine Swallowtail.

Pipevine Swallowtail

The possible Giant Swallowtail eggs haven't hatched yet. And I still haven't identified which kind of willows I found for certain yet.

The first of my Monarchs to pupate came out of its chrysalis today! It was a female. I took pictures. Off and on today there have been up to 4 Monarchs at a time flying around my garden. I can't believe how easy it is! Just plant some milkweed and they come!

Female Monarch

I still haven't gotten too many pictures scanned in yet, but they are coming!

Posted by butterflygirl at 03:34 PM

August 18, 2003

Got lots of pictures back today!

Didn't see as many butterflies since I was inside working. I did see a Tiger Swallowtail nectaring at a butterfly bush. Also, there were a couple Monarchs flying all around, and, of course, the Hackberrys.

I got a lot of pictures back. I'll scan them in, in a day or so and add them back to the related entries.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:42 PM

August 17, 2003

Willows and Giants

I didn't see as many butterflies today, it was so hot it was hard to stay outside for very long. Saw some of the usuals though, like Monarchs and Hackberrys. Once I even saw 4 Hackberrys on a rotting banana at one time!

Later I walked along some common area where I had seen some willows growing before. I took along my tree field guide to try to identify them. There was at least a couple different kinds there, maybe more. I took some cuttings, willows are supposed to be easy to start that way. Willows are host plants for Viceroys, Red Spotted Purples and some others.

I also checked out a hop tree in that area for Giant Swallowtail eggs or larva. I haven't seen a Giant Swallowtail egg yet, but I found a couple eggs that are good candidates!

Possible Giant Swallowtail egg

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:35 PM

August 16, 2003


I saw 9 different species of butteflies in my garden today! (Not including hairstreaks, blues, sulfurs and whites.)

1 - A beautiful Giant Swallowtail was nectaring for quite a while in the garden, unfortunately I wasn't able to get a picture of it.

2 - A Tiger Swallowtail visited.

3 - Quite a few Monarchs were flying around, as usual.

4 - A female Black Swallowtail came and laid some eggs. One while I was standing right by it and I could see the egg pop right out of her abdomen.

Black Swallowtail egg

5 - A Question Mark hung out on the rotting banana for a while. I didn't get a picture though, it's wings were pretty beat up anyway.

6 - Silver Spotted Skippers were flittering around everywhere.

7 - Hackberry butterflies were all over the rotting bananas too, sometimes 3 at a time!

8 - A Red-spotted Purple flew over my head and I followed and found it resting in the creek behind our house. This was the first Red Spotted Purple I saw at home this year. It was beautiful, but I wasn't able to get a picture of it.

9 - Spicebush!! First I saw a dark colored swallowtail that I thought may have been a Spicebush Swallowtail, but I couldn't get close enough to tell for sure. But it made me think I should check my spicebushes for eggs. Didn't find any eggs, but I did find 3 tiny Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars! One on each of my 3 bushes! First I've had on them!

Early instar Spicebush Swallowtail on spicebush leaf

Later I went and checked the sassafras patch in the nearby common area for Spicebush larva. Didn't find any, but I did find definite evidence there had been one there. I found one leaf torn and folded over with silk webbing in it. No caterpillar though. Either it moved on or was eaten.

Later still, another dark swallowtail stopped by, this time I was able to get close enough to see that it definitely was a Spicebush Swallowtail!

Earlier in the day while volunteering at the Butterfly House, I saw the usuals - Monarch, Spicebush Swallowtails, Red Admiral, etc. Also saw a Buckeye, very briefly too.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:26 PM

August 15, 2003

Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Monarchs all over again, Hackberries on the bananas. Still haven't seen any Buckeyes near by though.
Hackberry Butterfly at banana

A couple more Monarchs formed their J-shape.

The hummingbirds are everywhere! One has been all over the cardinal flower.

Hummingbird at feeder Hummingbird at feeder

Saw a hummingbird moth too!

6:30 - update -
just saw a male Tiger Swallowtail in the garden. It was nectaring at the sunflowers, butterfly bush and mountain mint. That was the first time I've ever seen a butterfly at the mountain mint, so far only the bees have been interested.

There were 3 Hackberries on one of the bananas all at the same time too - I got a picture.

3 Hackberry Butterflies on a banana

I need a digital camera!

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:40 PM

August 14, 2003

A Nice Sunny Day!

Its been nice and sunny out today! Lots of Hackberry butterflies on the rotting bananas. Monarchs laying eggs, Eastern Tailed Blues flying around, a Pearl Crescent nectaring on flowers. No swallowtails though. Lots of caterpillars everywhere, well, Monarch and Black Swallowtail caterpillars anyway - I got them all over my plants. I took a bunch of pictures today, I'll post them as they get developed.

Yesterday the hops vine I ordered from Edible Landscaping came in. Hops aren't native to the US, but are a good host plant for a few butterfly species. I doubt I'll get anything laying eggs on it this year though, but hopefully next year I will.

I found a small white skipper on the last of my daisys, I took a picture. It sat really still and let me photograph it.

Skipper on Daisy

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:18 PM

August 13, 2003

Cloudy rainy day

Been pretty cloudy again today, not too many butterflies around. I did see a Hackberry butterfly on a rotting banana, and I got a picture of it! Also, a Monarch was just flying right outside my office window, likely laying yet more eggs.

It ended up raining really hard, the plants needed it! Afterward I saw a Monarch and Pearl Crescent flying around and another Hackberry on a banana.

I got some pictures back today. On the August 9th entry I added the pictures of the preying mantis eating the Monarch . Also, the pictures of the big yellow caterpillar and its crysalis were added.

Posted by butterflygirl at 03:02 PM

August 12, 2003

Cloudy day

It was cloudy and cool all day and the only butterfly I saw was one Silver Spotted Skipper. Monarch #2 formed its crysalis overnight. I have more Monarch and Black Swalllowtail caterpillers than I can count now.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:50 PM

August 11, 2003

Female dark form Tiger Swallowtail in garden!

The most exciting thing today was finding a dark form Tiger Swallowtail flying around my garden. Also, the butterfly emerged from the big yellow caterpillars crysalis today. Second Monarch formed J-shaped today.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:46 PM

August 10, 2003

Trip to Shaw Nature Reserve

We went to the Shaw Nature Reserve today. I saw a few butterflies, but not as many as I had hoped to. I saw a Red-Spotted Purple, the first I've seen this year. Also, a Tiger Swallowtail, Monarchs, a dark swallowtail I couldn't identify. There were quite a few Pearl Crescent/checkerspots flying around too.

At home, more Monarchs were flying around the garden and #1 had pupated overnight.

A few weeks ago I had found some eggs on a milkweed leaf that looked like droplets of water. One of them hatched today, and I think it was an assasin bug. I took pictures.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:44 PM

August 09, 2003

Preying mantis eats Monarch!

At the Butterfly House today I saw a couple Painted Ladys around some lantana and pentas. They don't like to sit still very much, but I finally got a few pictures of them. Also saw a Red Admiral, some Monarchs, whites, sulfurs and some Spicebush Swallowtails. There were also some very small Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars on the spicebushes. I even saw one Tiger Swallowtail, but I was disappointed that I didn't see a Zebra Swallowtail around there, I really wanted to get a picture of one. I can't tell the difference between Pearl Crescents and some checkerspots, but I saw one or the other of those also.

The most exciting part of volunteering today was discovering a preying mantis eating a Monarch, not that I wanted to see a Monarch die, but its not something you see everyday. It was a really big preying mantis too. I took some pictures, hopefully they will turn out ok.
(edited - pictures came back, here they are! It's hard to see the preying mantis though, because he is so well camouflaged. It is more clear in the 3rd picture though.)

At home, Monarch #1 formed its J-shape. Didn't see many other butterflies though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:38 PM

August 08, 2003

Another day

A monarch laid still more eggs. The Monarch caterpillars in the enclosure are fine, getting much bigger. I found a few more small caterpillars on the milkweed too. I can't bring them all into the enclosure though, but hopefully a few of them will survive.

Haven't seen a Giant Swallowtail today. I did see a Question Mark or Comma fly through the yard. So I hung some fresh bananas from the trees, hopefully the squirrels won't get these. Saw a small brown butterfly too. I don't know what it was and it wouldn't hold still for me to take a picture, might have been a skipper.

A couple days ago I found a small group of orange eggs on a milkweed plant. I don't know what they are from, I hoping that they might be milkweed tussock moth eggs though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 02:35 PM

August 07, 2003

First Giant Swallowtail of the year!

I went outside today and saw a big Giant Swallowtail butterfly nectaring in my garden! First I've seen this year! Of course, I didn't have the camera with me. And of course, after I got it, it didn't have film in it. The butterfly stayed around a long time, but not long enough. By the time I got the film in, it had gone! Still, it was really beautiful! I checked the hop trees, no eggs. I think it may have been a male anyway. I hope it comes back again! And I promised myself, I will make sure the camera always has film in it!!!!

The Monarch caterpillars are all doing fine, all 8 of them, in the enclosure. The Black Swallowtails look fine too. I need to go out and take a couple of pictures tonight.

I also found a small Monarch caterpillar on a Common Milkweed plant in the garden today. They supposedly don't like to lay eggs on them as much as some other kinds of milkweed. I was surprised to find any at all. So far, no eggs on the Purple Milkweed either.

Posted by butterflygirl at 06:19 PM

August 06, 2003

Biggest Monarch at last instar

The largest Monarch caterpillar did molt overnight, its old skin was still laying next to it in the morning. Got a picture. I have about 8 Monarch caterpillars feeding on one potted tropical milkweed plant in the enclosure now. Two pretty big ones, 3 medium size, 3 tiny ones that just hatched.

The Black Swallowtail caterpillars are also in the enclosure, on some fennel cuttings.

There are many more eggs and small caterpillars on plants in the garden, both Black Swallowtails and Monarchs. Now, if I could only attract some additional species to lay eggs on host plants in my garden!

Posted by butterflygirl at 06:00 PM

August 05, 2003

Some Black Swallowtail eggs hatched

Some Black Swallowtail eggs hatched today. Most of that first batch never did anything, I think they were bad.

The biggest Monarch caterpillar is now about 2.5 cm long! Looks like it getting ready to molt again.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:54 PM

August 03, 2003

Big Yellow Caterpillar formed a crysalis!

Wasn't outside too much. Saw a Monarch fly around, 2 more monarch eggs hatched, the Big Yellow Caterpillar formed a chrysalis.

Later in the evening some type of sulfur was flying around, it let me get real close and get some pictures. Of course, it wouldn't open its wings, so I could only get the outside of it!

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:51 PM

August 02, 2003

More butterflies, more eggs

At the Butterfly House I saw a Zebra Swallowtail, some Tiger Swallowtails, a Spicebush Swallowtail and some Monarchs. I have never seen a a Zebra Swallowtail at my house, I hope I can attract one some day!

At home, the Monarchs and Black Swallowtails were laying more eggs. The Big Yellow Caterpillar started acting like he/she wanted to pupate.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:48 PM

August 01, 2003

Large yellow caterpillar found!

A Monarch was laying eggs all over the milkweed again. Found one small caterpillar on a plant that I hadn't seen before.

Saw a Tiger Swallowtail nectaring on zinnias in the garden.

Saw another Black Swallowtail fly around, she laid some more eggs.

Late in the day - I found a great big yellow caterpillar on a senna plant! Might be a cloudless sulfur, I'm not sure. Was eating flower buds, though, not leaves.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:43 PM