What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Deformed Butterflies
Location: West Los Angeles
May 7, 2012 11:13 am
Hi Bugman,
Summer came late here in 2010. When it arrived, so did the butterflies. However, it didn’t last long and when the cold weather hit, we lost over 3 dozen chrysalis’. Some that did emerge had deformed wings. They could barely fly or not fly at all.
I’m afraid history may be repeating itself as an Anise Swallowtail recently emerged with one deformed wing. It could fly, but with great difficulty.
Just thought I’d pass this on.
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Deformed Anise Swallowtail

Hi Jeff,
Thanks so much for sending in your letter.  We suspect both environmental factors and genetic factors can contribute to deformed butterflies.  It would be curious to find out if anyone else is experiencing this phenomenon.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: California

7 Responses to Anise Swallowtail: Why are the Butterflies Deformed???

  1. How are these being raised? If they are raising inside, make sure to mist the chrysalis. This is from Todd Stout’s Raising Butterflies website. “1. Pupae and Mature Last Instar Larvae. Keep in container with screen top. Mist spray every 14 days or so during the front end of winter; every 7 days or so on the back end. Adjust according to how immatures respond to humidity in their natural habitat. This group of immatures are LEAST sensitive to dessication and mold.” http://www.raisingbutterflies.org/overwintering-techniques/

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for this comment. We are sorry, but there was technical difficulty last month and we just realized there were about a hundred unapproved comments.

  2. Anna Carreon says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I did notice this with at least one of my Monarchs that emerged late last season.


    • bugman says:

      Thanks for letting us know Anna. We imagine in the wild when this occurs, the deformed butterflies immediately become prey and their presence is not noticed by people.

  3. TiggersMomma says:

    I am in the Midwest. A couple months after you posted this (early July ’12) I found an Eastern Tiger that looked like a mirror image of the butterfly pictured–left wings considerably shrunken, left antenna shorter, couldn’t quite get the hang of unrolling his proboscis. He would sort of waddle rather than walk due to the unequal weight of his wings. He literally fell onto my doorstep (probably after emerging from the tulip tree overhanging my porch), so I took him in, manually unrolled the proboscis, and kept him as a very spoiled pet for his 3 1/2 week life =) I’ve been looking for more Tiger cats since but have had no luck!

  4. Robert Burns says:

    I had an Anise Swallowtail get stuck emerging from its chrysalis this morning and it is deformed as a result. I finally helped her out. Amazingly, I saw one or two Chalcid wasps on the chrysalis while soft/new. I’ve long wondered if any parasitism occurred; certainly, there wasn’t enough to kill or devour her

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