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In 2010 we decided to raise eggs and larvae from other butterflies and insects. More will be added to this page at a later date.
You can raise butterflies and moths in much the same way you raise monarchs. Follow the instructions are on the Raising Monarchs page, just substitute the correct food for the specific type of caterpillar. Also note that they are suseptible to the same types of problems listed on the Monarch Butterfly Diseases & Parasites page.
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies:
We planted a spicebush in 2010 to lure this butterfly, which has the coolest looking caterpillar. They also eat sassafras leaves. 1. New egg and egg hatching. 2. Various stages of caterpillars that look like bird droppings. 3. Comparison of a larva in the snake skin stage and after changing colors. Cool, huh? 4. All swallowtails have osmeterium, the little orange retractable organ that emits a foul odor when you distrub the caterpillar. If you gently squeeze the caterpillar behind the head it may expose this organ. Little caterpillars sure can make a big stink! 5. Just before it pupates, the caterpillar changes from the cool green color to and orange-yellow color. 6. As the caterpillar starts to pupate it spins lots of silk and creates a girdle (string) around itself. 7. The green chrysalis is brand new. The darker one on the bottom is about to eclose. 8. Swallowtails love to stuff themselves into daylilies and take a deep drink. 9 and 11 - Male. 10 and 12 - Female.
Black Swallowtail Butterflies:
In 2009 my mom was complaining about the parsley worms in the garden, which is one of those things I have grown up hearing and kinda don’t think too much about. As kids we could have sworn parsley was a vegetable instead of an herb -- got to eat it to have a good complexion, you know. But something clicked inside my head and I dug out one of the bug books we have. Sure enough, all these years my parents have been exterminating black swallowtails so the parsley could grow! So, I mentioned that to them and they supplied us with 4 caterpillars. At the time I did not have any parsley in the garden and ran to the store to get some. I found some Chinese parsley. Parsley is parsley, right? Wrong! Chinese parsley is cilantro and is poisonous to black swallowtails! They died. So, the next year, I planted fennel, dill and parsley to lure these guys. Rue, carrots and Queen Anne’s lace also work. They were formerly known as Eastern black swallowtails.
1. New egg, developing egg, egg about to hatch. 2. Caterpillars in various stages. Notice the first two look like bird droppings. 3. All swallowtails have osmeterium, the little orange retractable organ that emits a foul odor when you distrub the caterpillar. If you gently squeeze the caterpillar behind the head it may expose this organ. 4. Many butterflies create a girdle from which to hang their chrysalis. 5. The green color chrysalis shortly after forming. 6. They also form brown colored chrysalises. 7. A few minutes before eclosing. 8. Starting to eclose. 9 and 11 - Male. 10 and 12 - Female.
Common/Orange Sulphur Butterflies:
I followed a sulphur around our yard and gathered 5 of the eggs she laid. We were able to raise one to a butterfly. The mother butterfly looked like an orange sulphur, but the butterfly we raise looked like a common sulphur (sorry, no photos were taken -- the one shown is a wild one that visited our yard). I was confused until I read that common and orange sulphurs interbreed. These guys lay their eggs on clover, treefoil and other legume plants. 1. The egg. 2. The larva. 3. New chrysalis. 4. Chrysalis about to emerge. 5. The adult of the common species.
Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly:
In 2012 I was checking our milkweed for monarchs and found this chrysalis on an Eastern Purple Milkweed. Of course, we brought it in the house to see what would eclose and were delighted to find a red-spotted purple male in the container. Sexing this butterfly by the wing pattern does not work reliably, so an abdomen check for claspers was necessary. We have an ornamental cherry tree in the yard and that is one of the food sources for the caterpillars.
Over the years we have found luna moths and caterpillars in our yard. We have hickory and oak trees, which are food sources. In 2012 I ordered some eggs to try to raise them. Unlike butterflies, the luna moths prefer a very dry container and the lid should not have any holes. We did have some issues with leakly water tubes and were unable to fully raise the caterpillars. 1. Eggs we purchased from a breeder. Note that the breeder put the date the eggs were laid on the paper bag scrap. 2. Empty eggs. 3. Various instar stages of the luna. 4. Since our caterpillars died, I purchased some luna cocoons and gave them to Shane for Christmas 2012. They are in the veggy drawer of our frig until May. 5. A luna moth male I found at work and brought home. The adults only live for a week to breed. They do not eat. 6. A luna male I spotted while on a family bike ride in the Poconoes. It had just eclosed and was still wet.
Automeris IO Moth:
Before we bought the spicebush, we went to a local park to check the sassafras for spicebush eggs and caterpillars. Instead we found these curious eggs that were white and yellow and looked like eyes. A friend identified them as automeris IO moth eggs. We were glad we brought them home, because they hatch out to caterpillars with poisonous barbs and the place we found them is frequented by many kids. I have read that their sting is much like the of stinging nettles, but it lasts longer. I used a plastic knife to gingerly move them as needed. Anyhow, after the eggs hatched, we released most of the caterpillars about 3 miles away from their original place in a nature preserve where people were not likely to come into contact with them. We kept 4 of them to raise. And yes, they eat their spikey skins after molting. One of their favorites is redbud (which we have), but their host plant list numbers over 100, so you are likely to find find them on many plants. 1. Eggs. 2-3. They start as little brown caterpillars. 4-5. By the final instar stage they turned a beautiful bright green. 6. The cacoon. Unfortunately, they did not make it to moths.
Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea moth):
I found the saddleback quite by accident. I was monitoring monarchs near the front porch. I did not see it sitting on the daylily leaves. I brushed against it and was stung! It felt like stinging nettles x3. I have read that the saddleback’s sting is the worst of any North American caterpillar. It caused welts and a rash on my wrist. I immediately washed my wrist, applied antihistamine cream and took an antihistimine pill. The pain lasted for about an hour. Several hours later my wrist has returned to normal. The most painful sting I have ever had was a wasp and this was nowhere near that pain. I think even the yellow jacket sting was worse also.
These caterpillars eat a variety plants. He/she has been quite happy to eat daylily leaves and pose for photos (in contrast to the spicebush caterpillars which immediately start moving under studio lights or in the sun).
Hickory Horned Devil (moth):
One morning in 2011 I went out to check the milkweed and was astounded to find this immense caterillar. I let Shane hold Spike to give you an idea of his size. The devils eat hickory leaves (a hickory tree is right above where I found him) and then come down to burrow in the ground and spin a cacoon. We kept him in a container with a few inches of dirt. He did form a cacoon, but did not emerge.
Questions Mark Butterfly:
We found a few of these while searching for monarchs and milkweed at Pickering in 2009. The zippy butterflies like to sip fermented nectar and can get a bit woozy. Unfortunately, their powdery scales come off easily and that is what happened to the edges of this one’s wings. This does not affect flight. If most of the scales were removed it could affect breeding as color is considered as a possible que for mating.
Various stages of lady bugs. Even as nymphs these beneficial insects will eat aphids!