Currently viewing the category: "Butterflies and Skippers"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Whilst researching Arctiids that might be found in Alaska, we stumbled upon A Guide to Nabokov’s Butterflies and Moths by Dieter E. Zimmer, our new favorite web site.  Though he was born in tsarist Russia, Vladimir Nabokov, most notoriously famous for penning the novel Lolita, probably had the best command of the English language of any native English speaking writer we can think of, on any side of the pond.  An amateur lepidopterist, Nabokov frequently made references to butterflies and moths in his work, and this site has an awesome catalog of all the members of the order Lepidoptera that appeared in his work.  The lovely Red Admiral Butterfly was playfully called the Red Admirable by Nabokov, and he also notes that in tsarist Russia, it was known as the Butterfly of Doom because large numbers of them were on wing the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.  We decided we finally needed a Nabokov category since we mention him so often.

Red Admiral from our archives

Red Admirable from our archives

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Butterflies Costa Rica
November 22, 2013 10:41 am
Where can I legally collect butterflies in Costa Rica as a tourist.  Visiting in December.
I know I cannot catch them in the National Parks.  Are there areas where it is ok?
Signature: Tor Bredal

Hi Tor,
We don’t know the answer to your question.  Since we do not endorse the collection of insects for anything but scientific purposes, we will not research this matter, but we would urge you to consult with customs prior to your trip.  Though you may be able to locate someone with private property who permits collecting insects, leaving Costa Rica with potentially protected insects and returning to you native land with contraband might result in criminal detainment.

Hi Daniel
Are you telling me that all butterflies collected in Costa Rica are potentially protected
Species?
Best regards
Tor

Hi again Tor,
We are not saying that.  We do not know the laws for collecting within Costa Rica or for passing through customs, but we would not want you to be detained for trying to export insects.  There is big money in contraband protected butterflies.  Our friend Julian Donahue, the lepidopterist, always secured government permission prior to collecting on trips.  We are urging you to research this matter thoroughly.  We will contact Julian to see if he can provide a comment to this posting.

Thank you that would be very helpful. The Costa Rican Embassy in Norway did not know anything. I know much about Red List and which ones that are threatened. To apply for a permission would be of interest.
Best regards
Tor

Julian Donahue explains butterfly importation restrictions
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for overseeing the importation of animals and their products (the Department of Agriculture oversees the importation of plants and plant products). All such items must be declared upon re-entering the U.S.; if the Customs Inspector finds undeclared items, you will be referred to the wildlife officer and subject to confiscation and/or legal action. Permits are generally required in advance if wildlife items are being imported for commercial purposes.

The Fish and Wildlife Service enforces foreign laws: if a permit is required to collect in and/or export from the country of origin (regardless of what the local residents may tell you to the contrary), then you will have to produce that documentation when entering the U.S. Otherwise, your specimens may be confiscated.

Regardless of whether the country of origin requires permits to collect and/or export, a Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife Form 3-177 must be filled out; the form is available online at: http://www.fws.gov/le/declaration-form-3-177.html

A quick Google search (which also showed this very What’s That Bug post on the first page) produced information on obtaining permits for scientific research, but nothing that specifically applies to avocational/recreational collecting. You may want to view these pages, however, which have contact information that will allow you to pursue this question further with the various Costa Rican authorities:
http://www.theskepticalmoth.com/collecting-permits/
http://soltiscentercostarica.tamu.edu/content/guidelines-research-and-collecting-permits-costa-rica

Although I am not aware of any Costa Rican butterflies that are on any official lists of protected species, travelers should be aware that many fish and wildlife products are prohibited from entry into the U.S. I recently visited a USFWS warehouse in Denver, Colorado, that was crammed to the rafters with confiscated wildlife, from furs and feathers to bags full of purses made from toads, and shelves full of turtles, coral, seashells–and butterflies!. For further information on items that may be prohibited, see
http://www.fws.gov/le//tips-for-travelers.html

Additional information may be obtained from the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement
(http://www.fws.gov/le/ports-contact-information.html)

Julian

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: butterfly host plant gardens in south pasadena
Website: daitoyofuku.com
May 1, 2013 1:16 pm
Hi I’m planting a couple gardens in so. pas./highland park (south pas. community garden, residential backyard) with a focus on native caterpillar host plants, as an ongoing art-project of sorts.
I’ve done a lot of research and am constantly looking for butterflies in the area these days. I would love some advice/input on what species of butterflies you’ve come across in the general east side area. I’ve started a google map to record sightings https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=ml
I’m an artist who recently graduated from CGU, and when I saw that Daniel is an art professor and friend of Lisa Anne Auerbach (my former housemate adopted a wonderful cat from her), I thought wow this dude is cool.
Thank you!
Best wishes,
Steve
Signature: steve wong

Monarch Caterpillar on Indian Milkweed

Monarch Caterpillar on Indian Milkweed

Dear Steve,
This is a very complicated question, and we will have to work on it in stages.  First, we believe you have overated Daniel’s cool factor.  He has been working with the Mount Washington Beautification Committee (including retired Natural History Museum of Los Angeles lepidopterist Julian Donahue) on a Butterfly Garden in Elyria Canyon Park for two years now, and since there is no irrigation and we just had a very dry winter, many plants did not survive.  You have the right idea to plant larval foodplants, but many times they are not as showy as nectar plants, so they are overlooked when setting up a butterfly garden.  Striking a balance between nectar plants and foodplants, and natives versus introduced plants is a challenge.  Many common local butterflies do not feed on natives, or have adapted to feeding on cultivated plants since natives are often in short supply.  An easy place to start is with milkweed, which is both a nectar plant and a larval foodplant for the Monarch butterfly.  Native milkweeds include
Asclepias eriocarpa, Indian Milkweed, and Asclepias fascicularis, the Narrow-Leafed Milkweed.  Both plants are perennials that die back in the winter and resprout in late spring.

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Western Tiger Swallowtail

You might want to begin planning your garden with a few select native trees.  The Western Tiger Swallowtail was our largest local butterfly prior to the introduction of the Giant Swallowtail.  The caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail feeds on the leaves of non-native citrus.  The caterpillars of the Western Tiger Swallowtail feeds on the leaves of native Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa.  You can also plant a Western Willow, Salix lasiandra.  The leaves of the Western Willow are eaten by Western Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars as well as the caterpillars of the Mourning Cloak, another large native butterfly that is relatively common because it also feeds on the leaves of the cultivated Chinese Elm.

Mourning Cloak in Elyria Canyon Park

Mourning Cloak in Elyria Canyon Park

Other excellent native nectar producing plants are Mule Fat (Baccharis salicifolia), California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) and Long-Stemmed Buckwheat, (Eriogonum elongatum).  Both Buchwheats have the added advantage of providing food for the caterpillars of several species of Blues and Hairstreaks, tiny butterflies that can sometimes be especially numerous.  We hope this helps you in your plans.  We are attaching our list of plants targeted for our own butterfly garden and since Mount Washington is adjacent to Highland Park, you should get many of the same species.

Painted Lady on Baccharis

Painted Lady on Baccharis

Thank you so much for the advice! Yes, I think milkweeds are a great idea, I’m growing about 50 (mostly A. fascicularis, a handful of eriocarpa) seedlings right now.
I don’t have any places that can handle the size of a sycamore (i wish i could, they are my fav. tree) but I think I’ll be able to plant willows! I was not aware of them as host plants, so I’m psyched to learn about them. I’ve got some garden space that can handle them i think.
If you’d like to have some plants to replace the ones that did not survive the winter, let me know, perhaps I can start some seedlings and get them up to speed for fall planting.
I’ll keep you updated on progress if you like, and the link to the butterfly sightings map didn’t work, but this should:
http://goo.gl/maps/nei6m
I’ve added you as a collaborator, just in case it might interest you.
Thanks again, your website is such a wonderful thing.
Best wishes,
Steve

Hi Steve,
We would love to get additional milkweed plants.  Please post a comment to this posting so that we can easily contact you and please update the posting when you have additional information.  I have a native willow I can probably part with.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Any idea what this is
Location:  Deerfield Beach, FL
December 1. 2-12
Taken in Deerfield Beach, fl Nov 2012.
FXS

Deformed Butterfly

Dear FXS,
This appears to be a Butterfly based on the clubbed antennae.  It also appears that there was some problem during metamorphosis that caused its wings to fail to expand and harden.  The hindwings also appear to be lacking in scales.  This is a most perplexing photo.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in the identification. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Interesting moths and butterflies?
Location: Windsor, ON, Canada
August 2, 2011 12:10 pm
This doesn’t seem like a question you would normally get, but I am quite interested in Lepidoptera and I am wondering what are some easy ways to attract interesting and beautiful species?
I am currently raising a Black swallowtail caterpillar, which is about to pupate, that I found on my parsley,in my garden.
Next year, I am going to plant a strawberry plant, and I know it will attract many moths, including the Emperor moth. Anyway, are there any nice species that I can attract easily with a host plant? Preferably not a tree. A shrub, plant, flower ..etc will work.
Signature: Sincerely, Dante

Pre-Pupal Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Hi Dante,
Thank you for submitting your lovely photo of a Pre-Pupal Black Swallowtail Caterpillar.  There is nothing unusual about your request.  It would be really helpful to know what species you are trying to attract, and also if you are wanting to provide just nectar for the butterflies, or host plants for caterpillars.  Butterfly Bush,
Buddleia species, are famous for attracting butterflies.  As a youngster growing up in Ohio, Daniel used to give his mother a bit of grief for damaging her tall perennial Phlox flowers in an attempt to catch butterflies.  The Phlox would attract numerous species of nectaring butterflies, including Tiger Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails and Pipevine Swallowtails as well as Fritillaries, Monarchs and diurnal Sphinx Moths.  Zinnias are another excellent flower to attract nectaring butterflies, but they are annuals that need to be planted each year.  Coneflowers and Monarda are also good choices for perennials.  You can always add native milkweed to your garden to provide the host plant for Monarch Caterpillars and the blossoms attract numerous butterflies.  Good luck.

Thank you for replying, I want to provide host plants for caterpillars,  preferably simple plants, not trees.
I was thinking about planting strawberries to attract Small emperor moths , but I am not sure if they live in Detroit, MI. Are there any silk moths, sphinx/hawk moths or butterflies that I can attract easily with a host plant?
Sincerely, Dante

Hi again Dante,
We are not certain where you heard about strawberries, but we have our doubts.  Regarding Giant Silkmoths, they do not feed as adults.  Lights will attract them, but you need host trees and you are not interested in planting trees.  Hawkmoths can be attracted by flowers with nectar, like bee balm, honeysuckle and nicotiana.  Tomato plants will attract species that feed on tomato leaves.  Good Luck.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Giant white winged butterfly?
Location: Auburn, NJ
July 7, 2011 8:48 am
Hi, I know the pics aren’t much, but I’m way curious with this one. This has got to be the biggest winged insect I’ve seen here. Unfortunately, it was at least 100 yards away from where I stood on the bridge over Oldmans Creek, near Auburn NJ. My eyes picked up on something white, and honestly, until I zoomed in with the camera expected it would be some sort of marsh bird. Or a flower or leaf or something large like that.
Only thing I can think of comes close to this size might be a luna moth. But this one is floating on a reed in the creek shallows, with it’s wings up. I thought moths usually rest with their wings down. I tried to adjust the settings hoping for some more detail, but it took off.
I’ll keep looking for it down there, and in the guides, but maybe it was just passing through? Thanks for any help.
Signature: Val

White Thing

Hi Val,
While a picture might be worth a thousand words, there are times that a photo doesn’t quite capture the experience of actually seeing something.  Our eyes frequently play tricks on us, and photographs have the capacity to distort reality because of the compression of space and the way that perspective and depth perception can fool they eye.  We can’t help but to draw comparisons between your photo and the images of the Loch Ness Monster or photos of UFOs.  Additionally the great film director Michelangelo Antonioni demonstrated in his ground breaking film Blow-Up that by enlarging a portion of a photograph in order to obsess on a detail, it is possible to see things that are not really there or to see what one wants to see while the image quality degrades.  We don’t know what you saw, but there does appear to be something white that is shaped like a butterfly in your photograph.

White Thing

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination