Butterfly Gardening and Conservation Blog

September 30, 2003

caterpillars - 9/30

It's rainy out and it's getting kind of cold too, so at this point there are not many adult butterflies flying around. Just an occasional Painted Lady or maybe a Monarch.

Still quite a few caterpillars around though. I now have 16 of them in my office! (and more outside!)

Black Swallowtails
Of those 5 little ones I found that one day, 4 are 5th instar and getting really big and eating a lot. The 5th is still much smaller. I don't know why it hasn't developed at the same rate as the others. It seems healthy though.

I also brought in a few other Black Swallowtail caterpillars that were outside. It is so cold out that they are developing really slow outside.

I found a few Monarch caterpillars outside and brought them in too. One is now ready to pupate, but I still have 4 smaller ones left in here. I have one Monarch chrysalis outside too.

Over the past couple of days, they both starting pupating.

Painted Ladies
I haven't gotten as good of pictures of these as I would have liked either. The way they hide in little nests makes it really hard to see when they are molting, so I don't know which instar is which. I have about 6 in chrysalids, a few more outside as caterpillars and there are still some in the garden too.

Spicebush Swallowtails
These are both outside. One, the last I checked this morning, still hasn't done it's final molt. The other has been turning yellow over the last few days. I don't even know if it is eating anymore or not. It is alive though, but it just sits though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 02:04 PM

September 27, 2003

caterpillars - 9/27

I volunteered at the Butterfly House again this morning. The Fall Festival was going on there. There was a least one more Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar on their sweet bay magnolia, I didn't look around to see if their were more.

Painted Ladies and Monarchs were flying around. I bought a couple of butterfly plants and a venus flytrap. Left kind of early, there really wasn't much to do.

Later at home it rained. I got pictures of the Black Swallowtails and of the Spicebush that is starting to pupate. It still hasn't done its last molt yet though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:52 PM | TrackBack

September 26, 2003

caterpillars - 9/26

I finished expanding one of my garden areas today. I planted a small butterfly bush I started from a cutting, some small willows started from cuttings and one of the prickly ashes someone gave me. I will plant more stuff in there next year. I just got finished planting when it started raining really hard.

Black SwallowtailsLast of the 4 bigger ones has molted. These 4 are all 4th instar now. Right after molting, the white band still shows, but after a while its not as visible. Maybe because their skin stretches?

Their size ranges are: 1.4, 1.5/1.6, 1.6 and one nearly 2 cm.

the other one is still 3.5 cm long and not doing anything

Got pictures at 2.7, 2.8 cm. Still green with white stripe along sides, with some really small black dots and tiny short pink lines. Don't know how they will show up in pictures though.

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:46 PM | TrackBack

September 25, 2003

Nothing but caterpillar updates

Still some Painted Ladies around and a Monarch now and then. So most entries will just be caterpillar updates at this point.

Black Swallowtails
One molted again. Lighter now, with more stripes/bands showing. Lots of orange spikes. Got pictures right after molting, at about 1.3 cm (kind of stretched out). Also picture of one close to molting (late 3rd instar) at 1.2 - 1.3 cm

One male Black Swallowtail actually emerged from its chrysalis today too! I don't know how long it will live, or if it will find a female to mate with this late in the year though.

In the morning, one molted. Don't have any idea which instar it is though. I'm sure I've missed most of the molts, and they look pretty much the same each time. I had been hoping to get really good pictures of each instar this year.

One has now started to turn yellow, so will be pupating soon!

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:36 PM

September 24, 2003

Caterpillar Update (again)

Black Swallowtails
Early in morning, another had molted. 4 of the 5 are now 3rd instar. White band still visible, orange/red spots and spikes very visible. Got pictures at 10-11 mm.

Late afternoon, one molted, looks the same as before.

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:27 PM

September 23, 2003

More caterpillar updates

(I've been really bad about keeping this updated recently. I have kept notes though, so I will go back and add some old entries.)

Black Swallowtails
The 5th one molted. The orange/red spikes show on top now, and they have orange/red spots on their sides. White band around middle still shows. Got a picture at around 9 mm. The other 4 look like they will molt again soon.

Got a picture of a 'black form' one at about 2.5 cm.

Later in the day a couple molted again. Right after molting, they look pretty much like in the last instar. White band still visible, more red/orange spikes.

1.7 - 1.8 cm in length. White stripe running along side is visible. A dark vein is also visible along back. Got some pictures.

Still 3.5 cm, not growing, but still look healthy.

Painted Ladies
The smallest of the Painted Ladies died, I don't know why. The next smallest may have just molted or is getting ready to. Got a picture. The next biggest is bigger, but still looks the same as on the 21st. It is really hard to follow these and to be able to tell when they have molted.

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:08 PM

September 21, 2003

Caterpillar Update 2

On Sunday I took quite a few more pictures of all the caterpillars I'm raising.

Sulfurs: One was 9mm, the other 10 mm long

Black Swallowtails: 4 of the tiny ones molted. Right after molting they were around 4.5 - 5 mm long. After molting their white bands are still visible. Red/orange spikes are visible too. They were more visible right after they molted than they were later on.

Painted Ladys: The smallest one was 5-6 mm, all black with some spikes. Took some pictures. Best guess is it is 2nd instar.

The next biggest one was 1-1.1 mm long. It was black with alternating row of black spikes and yellow spikes (just 3 rows of the yellow ones). Best guess is 3rd instar.

One was about ready to pupate and was close to 3.5 cm.

Color of the chrysalids seems to have changed a bit after sitting a while. Took pictures.

Spicebush Swallowtails: Didn't take pictures, just measured - 3.5 cm.

Adult butterflies in yard are pretty much the same as they have been for a while, just in lower numbers.

Posted by butterflygirl at 09:24 PM

September 20, 2003

A Tiger Swallowtail Laid more Eggs!

On Saturday I volunteered at the Butterfly House again. Someone who works there brought me in a couple of prickly ashes for my garden. She said the Giant Swallowtails where she lives seem to prefer it over Hop trees.

The most exciting thing was that I saw a dark form female Tiger Swallowtail flying around while I was there - and it was laying eggs! I didn't expect to see any more adult swallowtails this year!

At home, the usual species were still around. I worked on increasing the size of one of my garden areas - to make room for the pricky ashes and some willow cuttings I started.

Posted by butterflygirl at 07:18 PM

September 19, 2003

Caterpillar Update

On Friday, when I got up and checked on the caterpillars in the morning I saw that two of the Painted Ladies had formed a chrysalis! The biggest one that is left is about 3.5 cm.

The Spicebushes are about 3.5 cm. They aren't growing very fast, maybe because it has gotten a lot cooler here. They seem healthy though.

The sulfurs are about 6.5 - 7 mm now.

The five tiny Black Swallowtails are around 4 mm.

Still pretty much the same adult butterflies around, but in smaller numbers.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:15 PM

September 18, 2003

Still more caterpillars left

Still nice out today, but wasn't out as much and didn't see as many butterflies. The ones I did see are pretty much the same ones I've been seeing for a while, only in smaller numbers.

I still have quite a few caterpillars around though.

Two sulfurs: one of them molted today. They are around 5-6 mm

Black Swallowtails: I found 5 newly hatched ones from that female that I saw lay eggs recently. Plus quite a few bigger ones.

Monarchs: There is still one in the front.

Spicebush Swallowtails: 2 ready to pupate any day now.

Painted Ladies: Two of the ones I found the other day are starting to pupate now. The other 2 are still eating. Still some more left on the plants in the garden too.

There are still some hummingbirds around too, but not as many. A couple days ago most of them must have starting moving south.

Got more pictures back today, didn't have time to scan in yet.

Posted by butterflygirl at 07:53 PM

September 17, 2003

Same Stuff

Wasn't out too much today. Once this morning there were 3 Red Admirals around at the same time. Also saw the same Red Spotted Purple that has been hanging out for a while. Monarchs, Painted Ladies, skippers, Question Mark were all around too.

Went and took some pictures of some willows to be used on this site.

All the caterpillars seem to be doing just fine!

Already planning changes for the garden for next year!

Posted by butterflygirl at 06:56 PM

September 16, 2003

Painted Lady caterpillars?

There has still been quite a few butterflies around today. Red Admirals, Question Marks, Painted Ladies, Hackberrys, Tawny Emperor, Monarchs.

I found some caterpillars on my borage today! My best guess is that they are Painted Lady caterpillars, that is what I planted it for. I'll get pictures as soon as I can.

I added pictures back to some old entries:
August - 27, 28, 29 and 31 and Sept. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

I don't have any more recent ones back yet.

Posted by butterflygirl at 03:08 PM

September 15, 2003

Lots of Butterflies!

Saw quite a few butterflies today. Red Admirals, Questions Marks, Hackberrys, Painted Ladies, Monarchs, a Tawny Emperor, a Red Spotted Purple, a Viceroy - even a Buckeye!

Scanned in lots of pictures, but didn't have time to add them to the correct blog entries.

The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars are doing great! Took some pictures of them today.

The sulfurs are about 3.5 mm long. One of them looked like it had just molted.

Posted by butterflygirl at 08:47 PM

September 14, 2003

They're back!

It was cloudy and cool this morning. It is now sunny again! Today I've seen a Monarch and some Question Marks, Painted Ladies, a Red Admiral, a Tawny Emperor, sulfurs and some skippers. A Red Spotted Purple from a distance too.

The 2nd Giant Swallowtail finally did its last molt, I'll try to get pictures tomorrow.

There was a Viceroy nectaring from the sedum. A different one from before, its wings were much nicer. I tried taking a picture but each time I finally got it focused it flew away, the second time - really far away!

We got better pictures of the really big spider.

I was planning on scanning a bunch of pictures in today and adding them back in, but ran out of time. Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by butterflygirl at 08:46 PM

September 13, 2003

Still some caterpillars around

At the Butterfly House today, I mostly worked indoors, as it was rainy. Outside, though, they have some Pipevine caterpillars and Tiger caterpillars. I didn't bring my camera, so I don't have any pictures of them. Someone there told me that just a few days before they found a Zebra Swallowtail that had just emerged from its chysalis.

Later at home, I only saw Question Marks, a Red Spotted Purple and a Monarch. For a while a Question Mark was sitting with it's wings open and I got a picture of it. Not real close up though. They are really hard to get pictures of with their wings open. One of the Giant Swallowtail caterpillars moved over to one of the sticks, so now I'll be able to get a picture of it!

Posted by butterflygirl at 11:31 AM

September 12, 2003

Rainy again

It's a rainy day, but I did see Question Marks and a Monarch.

The Giant Swallowtails are starting to pupate. Unfortunately, on the sides of the jars I have them in, which means I won't be able to get a good picture of their chrysalids. I usually put sticks in for them to pupate on, but I didn't realize they would be doing it so soon.

The other sulfur egg hatched.

Posted by butterflygirl at 04:02 PM

September 11, 2003

More Black Swallowtail eggs!

Saw a Red Admiral sunning itself on a tree this morning. Tried to get a picture but it flew away. Also saw a Great Spangled Fritillary, just got a glimpse of it though before it flew down into the creek.

Once this afternoon there was a Question Mark, a Hackberry and a Red Admiral sharing the same banana. Then the Red Admiral left and a Red Spotted Purple took its place.

A Black Swallowtail laid eggs on some plants today. It is very late in the year, it's doubtful they will survive, especially since she laid most of them on rue, which they don't grow well on.

The Giant Swallowtail caterpillars are now about 4.5 cm long.

One of the sulfurs that I got eggs from a few days ago hatched. It is 1-2 mm long.

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:22 PM

September 10, 2003

Nearly the end...

I wasn't around most of the day, so I didn't see a whole lot of butterflies. I did see a Red Admiral 3 different times today though, don't know if was the same one or not. Hadn't seen any around for a while. Also a Question Mark, Comma and Monarchs were around. And of course, Painted Ladies and skippers.

And no, I didn't get the pictures scanned in yet.

The season will be winding down soon. And then I will start to work on the rest of this site.

Posted by butterflygirl at 07:26 PM

September 09, 2003

At last - A Red Spotted Purple!

A Red Spotted Purple has been hanging out in the yard for a few hours now.
I think I got a few good pictures of it. A big Question Mark came and scared it away though!

Red Spotted Purple

Otherwise mostly Painted Ladies still - 9 of them in front of the house on the sedum at one time! - and lots of skippers.

The last Monarch I had pupating emerged from its chrysalis today. It was a female. I got a picture of it. Of course, I still may get more. The milkweed is still doing real well.

There is a bunch of first instar Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my parsley and fennel too.

A pretty brown/grey preying mantis has been sitting on a blackeye susan all day, I got a picture.

Preying Mantis

Posted by butterflygirl at 01:39 PM

September 08, 2003

Red Spotted Purple sighting

Saw a Red Spotted Purple from a distance near the house, it didn't come close to the garden though. Still lots of Painted Ladies and skippers. The Question Marks and Commas are still visiting too.

Giant Swallowtail caterpillars are doing fine - 4 cm long now! - as are the Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars.

Last instar Giant Swallowtail almost ready to pupate.

I saw two Preying mantis' mating this morning and got one picture. They stopped, and the male was just fine and got away.

Posted by butterflygirl at 02:58 PM

September 07, 2003

Two Questions!

Two different Question Marks were feeding at the same time today. I may have finally got a picture of one of them with its wings open!

Question Mark with wings open.

Lots of Painted Ladies and skippers around. Saw one Monarch. And a small sulfur, not sure of its name, but I remember seeing it in a book. I got some pictures, only with its wings closed though.

Yesterday I found one Orange/Clouded sulfur egg, today I found another!

A sulfur egg.

Finally got the rest of the pictures back, will post some soon.

Posted by butterflygirl at 03:44 PM

September 06, 2003

They've got to be Giants!

I'm now certain the mystery caterpillars are Giant Swallowtails, as I had originally guessed. They are over 3 cm now and will be pupating in a few days.

Last instar Giant Swallowtail.

The same Viceroy from yesterday was back, along with some Red Admirals and Commas. I've seen what I think may be a Tawny Emperor too, the last few days. Lots of Painted Ladies, at one time there were 4 or 5 on the sedum in the front yard. A Buckeye was hanging out with them today.

One Monarch came out of its chrysalis today, I think it was male.

The willows I took cuttings from look like they might be getting some new growth on them now, they had looked like they were going to die.

Two of my Spicebush Swallowtails started to pupate today.

Spicebush Swallowtail read to pupate.

Posted by butterflygirl at 10:02 PM

September 05, 2003


I saw the first Viceroy today that I've seen this year.


It was feeding on one of the rotting bananas, along with a Comma and a Hackberry. I got pictures of both the Viceroy and the Comma, but the Comma only with it's wings closed. Saw lots of Painted Ladies around and Red Admirals too. At one point 2 Red Admirals were around and one landed briefly on my back.

One female Black Swallowtail came out of its chrysalis today and I expect to have one Monarch emerge tomorrow. The Giants, I'm sure that's what they are, are doing fine. They molted again last night/early this morning at about 12:30 am. That will be their last molt before they pupate.

The baby spiders look like they are doing fine and the female spider can still be seen, but she hides somewhat.

I got a lot of pictures back today but I haven't had time to got through them all yet. And one set hasn't came back yet that I sent in over a week ago, I hope they didn't lose them.

Posted by butterflygirl at 08:30 PM

September 04, 2003

The sun is back!

On Tuesday it rained even more than the day before, so I didn't see any butterflies, except late in the afternoon when it cleared up a bit I did see a Monarch and a few skippers. And I took more pictures of the mystery caterpillars. They are a little more than 2 cm long now. Will post pictures when I get them. Took a few pictures of the Spicebush caterpillars too.

Late instar Giant Swallowtail.

Last instar Spicebush Swallowtail.

On Wed. the weather was nice and I saw quite a few butterflies around. Mostly lots of little skippers. But I also saw a Great Spangled Fritillary! It was the first I've seen around here! I took some pictures - I hope they turn out ok.

Great Spangled Fritillary

A Red Admiral visited too. And I saw what may have been an Olive Hairstreak.

Today, Thursday, I had a headache and wasn't out as much as I could have been. The Red Admiral was back, lots of skippers and Painted Ladies.

The mystery caterpillars are doing fine. I think they are getting ready to molt again. I think they are Giants.

Pictures are slow with getting developed because of the holiday this week. More should be back tomorrow.

Posted by butterflygirl at 07:03 PM

September 01, 2003

Rain, Rain, Rain!

It's been pouring down today, so there won't be any butterflies flying around. The hummingbirds don't seem to mind in the least.

Two Monarchs did come out of their chrysalids today though. One was another 'surprise' one. I walked around to the front of the house when the rain slowed down a bit and found a Monarch hanging from a dying purple cone flower. I looked around nearby and sure enough, found the empty chrysalis under one of the leaves of the plant. So few butterflies survive on their own naturally that I'm always surprised to see one that wandered off and pupated on its own, without my help, and survived. Of course, it happens, its not like they need help from people, but still the odds are against them. It makes me happy to see it!

Posted by butterflygirl at 05:08 PM