BUTTERFLIES! They're emerging!

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    Apr 26, 2011 4:16 PM GMT
    My partner went to Home Depot a few weeks ago, to buy more plants from their garden section. We know a woman there (Angela) who seems knowledgeable about plants.

    And he told her he wanted some flowers to hang off our patio that would attract butterflies. She suggested some that we bought. And indeed, the butterflies came, which delighted my partner.

    But yesterday I walked out onto the patio, and noticed that one of the hanging plants had been stripped bare of leaves. I called to him in a panic to come see. What had happened?

    I think the butterflies laid eggs, he said, and now the hatched caterpillars are eating the leaves. Angela said this would happen, but the leaves will grow back. So we started looking for caterpillars, and sure enough, we found a few, munching away.

    And as we watched, some went down to the pot edge, their eating cycle complete, to hang down away from the sun. This morning 3 of them are chrysalis, while a 4th is about to enter that stage. I'll keep watch, and hope to get pics as the butterflies emerge.

    Butterflies.jpgmg]g


    Butterflies2.jpg
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    Apr 26, 2011 4:27 PM GMT
    DJdorchester said
    That is SO cool. Did you take that pic? Caterpillars are one of the few insects I can actually touch without freaking out.

    Yes, I did take those pics. Just a few minutes before I made this thread. Those are the actual butterflies-to-be I'm talking about on our patio. But I don't know how long it'll be before they emerge as butterflies, so I'm afraid I'll miss it, and fail to take pics.
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    Apr 26, 2011 4:58 PM GMT
    That's pretty cool. I always used to watch the chrysalises in the yard when I was a kid, but for some reason, I don't seem many around any more. A couple of years ago, there was a massive caterpillar hatch in the tree outside my office window. They stripped the tree of leaves in one day. Then the birds moved in and had a massive caterpillar feast. Not a chrysalis to be seen.

    Something is stripping the leaves off of my pepper seedlings at night, but I think it's ants.
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    Apr 26, 2011 5:23 PM GMT
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    Apr 26, 2011 10:41 PM GMT
    OK, here's a comparison with the photograph in the OP above. That one caterpillar you saw sat there motionless all day. But about an hour ago it dropped down, and I know by dawn it'll have become a chrysalis (pupa), like the other 2 hanging there. (I moved a branch away that blocked the view, and had to use the flash)

    butterflies3.jpg
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    Apr 26, 2011 10:44 PM GMT
    That, my friend, is the caterpillar of the Monarch.
    You will have beautiful butterflies soon. icon_biggrin.gif

    monarch.jpg
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:15 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidThat, my friend, is the caterpillar of the Monarch.
    You will have beautiful butterflies soon. icon_biggrin.gif

    monarch.jpg

    I hope to photograph them emerging. But do you know how long the pupa stage lasts? I looked online and got no clear answers.
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:23 PM GMT
    I read 9 to 14 days.
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:28 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidI read 9 to 14 days.

    I was kinda finding 10 days to 2 weeks online myself, but I thought that seemed kinda long, so I suspected I was getting it wrong. But if that's right, I would guess sometime toward the end of the first week in May? I'll be watching them everyday in any case.
  • MuscleComeBac...

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    Apr 26, 2011 11:29 PM GMT
    Development depends on temperature, relative humidity, and, of course, predators....
    Don't disturb them, just keep an eye on them. They actually change color and the chrysalis (which is transparent) is the best indication of when they're about to emerge. You'll literally see the markings all folded up in patches of brown and gold and black. Typically they emerge about nine to ten days after they've fully formed their chrysalis. So you're in luck, that means it's going to fall on a weekend based on what you've posted.

    You can expect to see more of them as the summer goes along.

    Very cool!
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    If you bought this from Home Depot there should be a tag with care instructions and the plants name on it. You mind sharing what this plant is?
    The only butterfly plant I can think of is Milkweed.
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:43 PM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidYou can expect to see more of them as the summer goes along.

    Very cool!

    Thanks! But remember, I'm in Florida, the land of perpetual summer, so I don't know how that affects these butterflies. If they keep laying their eggs, I'm afraid all our hanging flowers will be denuded!

    And once they come out of their cocoons, who said they'll stay here? They've already destroyed all the plants they like here, so I suspect they'll move elsewhere. I told my partner I'm not so sure of this model. Can we get flowering plants that insects DON'T eat?
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:45 PM GMT
    Yaho0 saidIf you bought this from Home Depot there should be a tag with care instructions and the plants name on it. You mind sharing what this plant is?
    The only butterfly plant I can think of is Milkweed.

    You're asking ME? I wouldn't know a rose from a daisy. I'll ask my partner when he gets home.
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:46 PM GMT
    Beautiful pictures too, BTW. Can't wait to see the posting of the emerging butterfly!
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    Apr 26, 2011 11:51 PM GMT
    Ravco saidBeautiful pictures too, BTW. Can't wait to see the posting of the emerging butterfly!

    Thanks, just quick handheld snapshots. Standing on a patio chair because these flower pots are hanging from the condo patio above us. The last one I had to supplement with flash, because it was overcast and getting a bit dark.
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    Apr 27, 2011 12:03 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    MuscleComeBack said Can we get flowering plants that insects DON'T eat?



    There's a "Butterfly Bush" that monarchs and the like seem to like. The bush also attracts humming birds and bees, but hornets don't seem to like it much. Home Depot does sell them, as that's where I found the thing, as the "Butterfly Bush" but its botanic name is "Buddleia davidii." The bush, I'm not actually sure if it is technically a bush, does grow rather quickly and needs to be trimmed at least annually. It also winters well, but you live in Florida.
    I've never seen and damage to the leaves, so I don't think anything eats it.
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    Apr 27, 2011 12:22 AM GMT
    I should think your plant is called butterfly weed (a type of milkweed). It is both a nectar source and food source (for Monarchs and Queens).The butterfly bush that Yaho0 spoke of does indeed attract butterflies galore, but personally I find it a rather unattractive plant that gets quite large.
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    Apr 27, 2011 12:33 AM GMT
    They appear to be the flesh eating breed.. I would eradicate them.
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    Apr 27, 2011 1:20 PM GMT
    Now all 3 on that pot have entered the pupa stage. The last one to hang down was still a caterpillar last night at 1 AM, I was hoping to take pics as the chrysalis formed. But this morning at dawn it was fully developed, sneaky bastard. That was faster than I would have thought possible. Interesting how they're all identical in size, even though the caterpillars were of unequal size, this last one on the left the biggest.

    I asked my partner for the name of the plant, but he surprised me by saying he didn't know, and he didn't keep the Home Depot tag. We'll ask Angela on Friday or Saturday. I hope nothing eats them, because they all picked the pot edge rather than among the branches, which seems to offer no camouflage, although all 4 did choose the shady side.

    Butterflies4.jpg
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    Apr 27, 2011 1:31 PM GMT


    When I was a child I used to play with caterpillars in the garden, one of them I had for about a week in a egg carton and used to play with it every day, feeding it etc..

    Then I let it go.

    Some time passed (I don't know how long) but I was playing in the garden and this butterfly landed on my hand and even when I shook my hand to get it off it would just fly around and land on my hand again.

    Do you think it was the same one?
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    Apr 27, 2011 1:42 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidI bet he was the same one.

    He was like, "Look at me, bish! Look how beautiful I am!"


    Yeah I think so. He was a gay butterfly too, even when I shook him off he kept coming back

    "you're not looking at me!, I demand you give me attention"
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    Apr 27, 2011 2:14 PM GMT
    I live in Orlando and only plant Florida Native Plants in my flower garden. Plants originally imported from China or Africa or somewhere else may look pretty and have nice flowers but they have to be watered, sprayed, debugged, and all kinds of extra care because they are not native to Florida and our heat and humidity and bugs.

    Not a plant snob, just think it is a cool idea to "grow local."

    It turns out that butterflies need two kinds of plants: nectar plants for the butterflies to feed on, by sipping the juice, and larval plants for the caterpillars to feed on, by munching the leaves.

    Monarchs feed on milkweed, so buy that and you are pretty much guaranteed butterflies. All I need now is for them to find my garden here in the midst of suburban Orlando. Seems they can't read the big printed directional signs I put out for them.

    For more, check http://www.FNPS.org
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    Apr 27, 2011 2:38 PM GMT
    Here are the plants we have that the caterpillars ate. The ones with the tiny flowers and slender leaves are the ones they stripped in one hanging pot, and damaged in the other, perhaps the milkweed you guys are talking about? In the second pic are flowers we have in adjoining pots, and mixed in with some of the milkweed (if it is). Maybe those are more nectar-bearing, to attract the adult butterflies? The caterpillars did not touch them. (Sorry the pics aren't better, but I'm standing on a patio chair to reach these hanging pots that are twisting in the breeze)

    Milkweed.jpg

    Milkweed2.jpg
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    Apr 27, 2011 3:25 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidThe first flower, I think, is called the blood flower and is a type of milkweed.

    ...The second photo is of petunias.

    Yeah, those slender leaves are identical to what we have here and that I posted above, and the tiny flowers also the same except for their color, so I guess they are indeed milkweed. Is the petunia nectar-bearing, that the adult Monarch could feed on? I think Angela at Home Depot told my partner to get these both to attract butterflies, because he told her that's what he wanted to happen.

    By the way, I appreciate the metamorphic symbolism, too. When I was straight I was a dull, plodding caterpillar, but after coming out of my shell as gay I've become a beautiful butterfly, flitting all about. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Apr 27, 2011 5:23 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle said
    Art_Deco said
    . Is the petunia nectar-bearing, that the adult Monarch could feed on?

    I imagine that they are as I have seen butterflies always congregating wherever the petunias are.

    Ah, that may explain why the milkweed that was planted with the petunias had 3 caterpillars, while the milkweed that was alone in a pot only had 1.

    BTW, I phoned my partner, and he confirms he remembers Angela saying that the milkweed was the plant he should buy for butterflies, and that he put out there. The petunias, though, were his own idea, based on his sense of color.

    You guys were right, and so smart about these things! This is an area about which I know absolutely nothing.