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bev - email - url
Wayne - Yes, I'm certain that's a third instar of Papilio polyxenes. I've photographed third instars in my garden, then watched them and shot photos as 4th and final instars. It didn't take long for them to go from 3rd through to 5th (I think it took 5 days in total) so be watching them daily if you want to document that. This webPage shows photos of all of the instars and contains more info on the species. Btw, the caterpillars I photographed here in my garden were feeding on variegated goutweed (Aegopodium podograria 'Variegatum'), a pretty but extremely aggressive groundcover plant that we made the mistake of planting around the house foundations when we first moved here 30 years ago. I found the 3rd instars on July 9, 2004, and they were at 5th instar on July 14.
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 07:50:30


bev - email - url
Oops on that link. I always seem to do that here at Niches!
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 07:51:31


Wayne - email - url
Bev - fixed, no problem. Even old pros like us can very easily forget to close a markup, and I certainly do.

Thanks for the confirmation and link. I've updated the page with a photo of the little scamp, today, as soon as it got light out, six days later, and from that link it looks like a fourth instar, with the fifth still to go. I still haven't quite gotten my instars fully understood but working on it. It's at least an inch long now.

BTW - we've planted a few "may be aggressive" sorts of plants, and have had the same regrets. At least there's something eating on yours!
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 08:32:23


roger - email - url
you are ever the consumate teacher wayne, dropping a word like osmetria in there to tantalize us word fanatics. thanks.
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 09:43:26


bev - email - url
Wayne - Nice follow-up shots of the caterpillar! Yes, I'd say it looks like 4th instar now and the 5th and final would be soon. I checked my 4th instar photo and the caterpillar still had spines. Fifth should be smooth and either green with black and gold markings, or more blackish with markings (I've seen both here at the farm). Regarding the scent that's released when the osmetria appears, I've found that it reminds me of the smell of tangerines or oranges when you squeeze the peel. There's a strongly scented mist that comes out of those peels (you'll have seen the mist but not been able to smell it). I can remember my Dad showing me that when I was very small. Well, that's what the scent reminds me of - citrus and yet a bit of something else. The stuff from an orange peel hurts your eyes if it's anywhere nearby, so I'm wondering if the release from the caterpillar would have a similar effect on predators. Seems like one of those good Thomas Eisner "insect weapons" examples.
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 09:57:22


Wayne - email - url
Roger - it's a good word, isn't it. Always poke a caterpiller. You never know what might poke or spew out. What fun it is. (well, the green goop from tomato hornworms is a major turnoff, I admit.)

Bev - it's interesting about the citrus odors, because Common Rue is in the family Rutaceae, the same family as all our citrus plants. How the chemicals that give the odor of rancid butter might come of that, I don't know, but it seems much more likely that a citrus odor would result.

And you're right - I've seen the spray when peeling an orange, but of course haven't smelled it. I do know that the peels will burn your lips though! Now what's that all about?

And what is it all about too, that as the larval stages progess, a caterpillar should go from spiky and colored in one way, to smooth and colored in a totally different way? And that's just this species, the black swallowtail. The other species, giant swallowtail, pretty much retains its bird-dropping features with little change throughout its larval stages.

And Thomas Eisner. It's always good to remember his name!
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 10:17:54


Wren - email - url
Thanks for the pointer to the Host Plants Database - I'm getting lots of useful links from you, robin, and bev in particular.
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 10:47:17


Wayne - email - url
Wren - I had been mulling this over without really coming to any conclusions but then it struck me how many "butterflygardens.com" there are. And most of them suggest planting plants with flowers that attract the adults.

The problem is that the adults aren't very picky at all - sure the plants are also nice at the same time, but what should actually be done is to plant the usually homely, unattractive larval food plants. The larvae are usually *much* more picky.

That's where that database works for me. It wouldn't have occurred to me to plant rue, which is a homely plant without spectacular butterfly-attracting flowers. But those two swallowtail species go at it enthusiastically, as larvae.

Similarly for the breathtaking Zebra Swallowtail, which as an adult will feed on just about any nectar-producing flower. But the larvae are very picky - they like pawpaw leaves. The flowers are nothing (unless you're a botanist, then they're quite quite something). But that's what Zebra Swallowtail larvae like. Want Zebra Swallowtails? Plant pawpaws!
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 11:01:19


bev - email - url
Wayne - You're so right about the "butterfly garden" thing. Earlier today, I had to do something at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. I stopped to look at a section of garden that was signed as "Bee & Butterfly Garden". I didn't see too many of either in the garden, and it seemed like most of the plants were nectar plants and not the kinds of plants that feed larvae. If we want to do something constructive for the larvae, we should definitely be focussing on larval food plants. Btw, speaking of larval food plants, for the past couple of years, we've left a couple of stands of milkweed in the back yard and they're looking fantastic this year. So, now we have Spider Ranch as well as the Monarch larvae garden (as yet officially unnamed).
Sunday: 10 June 2007 @ 14:36:26


voyante - email
Yes Wayne, I agree with you ! The larvae are usually much more picky, i speack on my site to voyance gratuite
Wednesday: 22 October 2008 @ 20:55:40


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