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Beverly
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Location: Colima, Mexico (USDA Zone 11)

Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Greetings, I am new here and in this my first post, i would like to introduce you, in a small way, to my small garden. The other day i was emailing with a friend in India who lives in the same climate zone as i do. We are both gardeners and grow many of the same plants. We were trying to imagine our gardens without all the various critters that make their homes and/or visit our gardens, but we could not. It was impossible to imagine. So here, from egg to adult is one of my garden regulars.

Ah ha! What have we here? A small cluster of many clusters of eggs have appeared on the Aristolochia vine
IMG_a2177.JPG
Ooooooh, little caterpillars. Caterpillars hatched in clusters have a tendency to be sociable with one another. These caterpillars are molting together in this image. They also eat together, travel from place to place together, sleep together, until it is time to pupate. Singly laid caterpillars do not have the same social tendencies.
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Such cute little chums.
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Even when they are quite large and nearly ready to pupate, bigger chums. They are not short of food in this photo. They just like to be together. Hmmmmmmm, i wonder what kind of butterflies they will be :D
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Amazing chrysalises are either green or brown and look like gargoyles to me. Now we wait for approximately 15 days to see what will come out. No fair looking ahead, but some of you will likely know after seeing the caterpillars.
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This one exited from the top of the chrysalis with wings crumpled up (as all this species do). After about 15 minutes the wings are fully extended as in this photo, but it may be another hour or so before the wings are strong enough for a first test flight. Now we can see that this is a Polydamas Swallowtail butterfly (Battus polydamas).
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Just about ready for flight, we have a good view of the thorax and also the underside wing pattern.
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And here we see the top wing pattern; a velvety black color with yellow markings.
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I have come to know these caterpillars and butterflies very well over a period of a few years. Colima is one of its prime breeding areas so when they arrive, it is not a few at a time, but hundreds at a time. They are sweet caterpillars, but they are also very tough, as are the butterflies and they have a good survival rate. The host vines are Aristolochias. In the USA, they are known in parts of Texas and Florida but don't travel much farther north than that. What wild garden things make your heart sing?

HoneyBerry
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Thank you for posting such nice pictures! I don't have very many butterflies in my yard, but I'm working hard to attract them with plants that they like. I have seen some white butterflies lately.

I have some nice pictures of a black faced hornet hive that's in my friend's yard. I will post them later.
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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Hi BirdLover...if i remember correctly there is a large bird santuary (can't recall the name) just south of you? I passed a lot of hours there some many years ago. It was a great place to find American Bitterns. I am sure you know it...maybe you can remind me what the name is? Also a great place for ducks...love those Buffleheads!

You can do a search for what butterflies visit your area and the best host and nectar plants for the ones you would like to attract. Buddleia davidii is a super nectar plant and should do very well in your area.

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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

There is a large refuge just south of where I am. The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. It has a system of hiking trails including the Estuary Boardwalk Trail that sits just above the wetlands. Here is a picture from the website wta.org:
The new Nisqually Boardwalk. Photo by Tomas.
The new Nisqually Boardwalk. Photo by Tomas.
I will have to plant some Buddleia Davidii. Thank you for the suggestion.
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ElizabethB
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Hi Beverly,

Warm welcome to the forum.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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applestar
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

That was a great photo series! I must say, as soon as you said Aristolochia, I was expecting Pipevine Swallowtails, so I was surprised and baffled to see those caterpillars and eventually the butterfly photos... Then remembered noting you are in Mexico. :idea:

In my area, the butterflies would be Battus philenor. I've missed the chance to go to a big native plant sale in Pennsylvania two years in a row, but I've promised myself that next time
I go, I'm getting some locally native Aristolochia (pipevine) to plant along the back fence in hopes of attracting them.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Bird lover - is this the white butterfly you are seeing?

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https://www.firstearthgardens.com/wp-con ... e-moth.jpg

Unfortunately it is the cabbage white butterfly, whose larval form is a caterpillar known as cabbage worm--very destructive pest of cabbages and other brassica crops.

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https://www.waldeneffect.org/20090609caterpillar.jpg
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Maybe. They don't stop fluttering long enough for me to check for the black dot. They look pure white, not off-white like that photo, but it still might be it, could just be the light. I have seen white butterflies with black dots before in my yard before, so chances are that's what it is. They are pretty. I like them.

There's a nest in the neighbor's tree that looks like caterpillars. I'm curious as to what it is. I think most people kill nests like that. But we can't go around killing everything.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

That photo is of the wings up, showing underside. The top side is much more pure white:

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https://www.yates.co.nz/images/nz/proble ... y-1-la.jpg


Is the caterpillar "nest" bagworms?

Image
https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/bagworm- ... 973855.jpg

Another very destructive one. They will defoliate and kill trees.

I'm not big on killing things and certainly never use poisons. The bagworms I do cut (branch and all) off the tree and burn if they are on my property. I'm in no danger of driving them to extinction. :)
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Yeah, it looks very much like that. I will get a picture of it and post it when I get home. It's my neighbor's tree, so I can't cut the branch off. And they are neighbors of the icky variety, so I don't talk to them unless absolutely necessary.
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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

@BirdLover...Yes, the Nisqually Delta, that's the place. How lucking you are to be living close to such a place. I was living in Seattle and would drive down with like-minded friends for days of bird watching on the weekends. The hubs was not interested so i was lucky to have good friends.

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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Yes, I need to go there more often. I'm planning to visit that place sometime soon and take pictures. I'm very busy, so I have to figure out hiw to work it in somewhere in-between. I need to meet some nature watchers.
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Rainbow,
Here's a picture of the nest. It's getting late so it turned out dark, hard to see the nest. I'll take a better picture on Saturday in the sunshine and post it them.
image.jpg
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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Hi applestar...i just wrote a reply to your comments and now i am not seeing it. Good grief, i wonder if i failed to hit the "submit"? The Pipevine Swallowtails are beautiful but i only get to see photos because they don't range this far south. Do you know the species of your local Aristolochia? I think you should have no trouble finding it in NJ. NJ is big on butterflies. NABA (National American Butterfly Association) is located in NJ. If you contact them by phone or email and inquire about the native Aristolochia, i am sure they would be happy to tell you where you can find it. Also, unlike milkweed for Monarchs, Aristolochia is not as widely available. I think your Aristolochia butterflies will use any kind of Pipevine for host vines although they generally prefer the native species. I believe the most commercially available is Aristolochia littoralis (aka elegans), but the vine you select must also grow well in your climate zone. When your vine is growing well, you will have Pipevine Swallowtails and caterpillars. It may take them a year or two to find your vine, but once they do, you will have them every year(climate change permitting). They remember where hosts are, not the same butterflies of course but somehow the information is passed along. I think it is a genetic thing. Good luck and i can't wait to see the photos! :D

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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

BirdLover, you can check with the local audubon society. They probably have scheduled walks. Or go on your own wearing a pair of binoculars (do you have a pair?) and a group will probably pick you up :D Ask some question like "have you seen any bitterns?" Hopefully you will find some friendly folks.

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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Stunning! Thanks for sharing, Beverly. By the time you got to the chrysalis, figured it a swallowtail. (see my thread on Susan's Cat House, with bad fuzzy pics)

I've got the black swallowtail, well, have plenty of parsley. I've seen a couple of giant s'tails, and of course the yellow tiger s'tail. I am looking at the pipevine plant, and one is native to the area. I hesitate as anything with Vine in the name can be a 4 letter word beginning with V. With our climate, somethings grow here, more than we like!
Have fun!
Susan

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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Hi Susan...i will certainly check out your Cat House fuzzy pics. It will be interesting to find out what butterflies you have there in Memphis.

Your comment about the vines really made me laugh because the same is true here, especially during the rainy season. The garden is overtaken by an exuberance of wild and crazy growing. I'll pull up some pics one of these days. I used to prune more than i do now. Now i only prune them when they are threatening the neighbors. Also i don't like to prune the vines that host caterpillars because you never know who might be making a home in there. Host plants can be really tricky that way.

I am looking forward to visiting the organic gardening site as well. I hear it is a good one. There are products out there certified "organic" that i can't use because they kill larvae and some natural products do too. For example, i can't use Neem which is too bad because there are Neem trees all over the place here. So, pest control can be tricky too and wowser, do i have pests! Nice to hear from you

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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

Thank you for suggesting binoculars. I had not thought of that. I would have gone tgere without some and regretted it. I have small binoculars, but I might need to buy some bigger ones. I have a nice camera (Nikon D3100) but I need to get a better zoom lense. I want to get some nice pictures to use for some art projects. (If I can find the time for art projects - that's another story.) Yes, I might meet some other nature buffs. That would be fun. I've never seen a bittern. There is a picture of one on the website. I read about the disappearing act that they are famous for.
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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

BirdLover...the binoculars send the message that you are a nature/bird lover. Of course they are handy for spotting and identifying birds too :-). I was thinking they might help you meet some nice like-minded people there to explore with. If the little pair that you have can hang around your neck, that would do the trick. A camera will help too. Cameras are also handy for meeting people. Bitterns are reclusive, and they make the most incredible sound, almost like someone is plopping an empty tin can, open-end down into the water so you will hear them before you see them. The first bittern i saw was in a field at the Nisqually Delta. I was on my own that trip and took off into a field with knee high grass. What the bitterns do is point their very long bills to the sky and freeze. I almost tripped over the bugger and in front of my face he took off straight up into the air. It was amazing. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open for the longest time and didn't even think about cameras or binoculars. I hope you share some of your photos here.

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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

My friend is working on the look part. She is going to pick me up a mosquito net hat, khaki shirt and shorts, binoculars with a neck strap, sunglasses, hiking boots and a camoflage canteen. She's also looking into renting me a jeep and an kangaroo. :flower:

I might just go there for a short visit without too much stuff and then go back in the Spring for the real deal and a longer hike.
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Beverly
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Re: Wild thing, you make my heart sing: egg to adult

LMFAO LMFAO LMFAO LMFAO o that's funny Bird. I can just picture it...don't forget a butterfly net :D Wow, everyone will want to meet you, you will be so authentic looking and well-equipped, do you have a safari hat? :D Hey, there is lots of activity there in the fall and winter too, you don't have to see the whole place in one day ya know :)

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