Currently viewing the category: "butterfly caterpillars"
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Subject: caterpillar on lamb’s ears
Location: San Diego, CA
June 24, 2017 6:49 pm
Hello,
I have a plant that just popped up in my garden and think it’s a lamb’s ears. Each tip of the tallest 5-7 branches have been folded up into caterpillar homes. See picture… Do you have any idea what they might be?
Thank you!
Signature: Judy Sharp

American Lady Caterpillar

Dear Judy,
This distinctive caterpillar is an American Lady Caterpillar,
Vanessa virginiensis.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Cudweeds, Everlastings and Pussytoes – Gnaphalium, Anaphalis, Antennaria.”  BugGuide also makes reference to the caterpillars making “leaf shelters” and there is a nice image on BugGuide with the caption “The larva weaves the leaves together and feeds inside the shelter.”

Thank you Daniel,
That’s exactly what they are doing – “weaving” for shelter. I see no signs of them feeding on any leaves. I hope they survive. I look forward to seeing them as butterflies. 🙂
Judy

Dear Judy,
We would love any images you can send of chrysalides or adults once they emerge.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: West Los Angeles sighting – Gulf Fritilary – 1
Location: West Los Angeles
June 20, 2017 1:52 pm
Hi Bugman,
Here’s the next set of pictures. Hope you enjoy them.
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Mating Gulf Fritillaries

Dear Jeff,
It is going to take a chunk of time to correctly edit the posting to contain your awesome images depicting the life cycle of the Gulf Fritillary,
Agraulis vanillae, a common Southern California butterfly.  We have decided to begin the posting with your awesome image of a pair of mating Gulf Fritillaries, a logical place to begin a life cycle, and we will add to the posting as we reformat your images. This has prompted us to initiate a new tag of Buggy Life Cycles to house both this and your previous Anise Swallowtail documentation.

Gulf Fritillary ovipositing on passionvine.

Hatchling Gulf Fritillary caterpillar (right)

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Pre-Pupal Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Pre-Pupal Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar with, possibly, a parasitic Wasp (right)

Hi Daniel,
This is the second time you’ve spotted a parasitic wasp in one of my pictures.  Is there anything I can, or should, do about this?  I understand the wasp has as much right to exist as the butterflies, but I can’t help feeling protective over the caterpillars.
Thx, Jeff

Gulf Fritillary Chrysalis

Sorry Jeff,
We can’t think of a way for you to protect the early stages of butterflies from parasitoids unless you raise the caterpillars in a container with a fine mesh screen.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: ? Butterfly Larva
Location: southeast Michigan in June
June 17, 2017 6:06 pm
I am a hopeless butterfly enthusiast who came across this interesting caterpillar crawling along the
paved trail in our state park. I am familiar with the common butterflies found in our area, but my
research provided no matches for this larva. It was clearly in the wandering stage, seeking out a place to pupate. I hope you will be able to solve my little mystery. I would love to know to which
species it belongs! Many thanks in advance.
Signature: Kathy Genaw

Our Automated Reply:  Thank you for submitting your identification request. Please understand that we have a very small staff that does this as a labor of love. We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can!

In the interest of not wasting your valuable time, I want to let you know that I
was able to identify my butterfly larva.  It is a Mourning Cloak caterpillar!
Thank you for the great work you do!
Kathy Genaw

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar

Dear Kathy,
We are thrilled to post your image of a Mourning Cloak Caterpillar.  Theyy do wander in search of a suitable site to undergo metamorphosis, and we have several images in our archive of Mourning Cloak chrysalides under the eaves of homes.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: A new creature for me
Location: SW Orange County –
June 3, 2017 1:17 pm
I have lived in NC, in the woods, for over 25 years but this was new. I didn’t even know where to begin looking it up: Beetle? Bug? Caterpillar? Poisonous for my hens or safe?
Signature: Virginia

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Virginia,
This is the caterpillar of a Pipevine Swallowtail,
Battus philenor.  Adult Pipevine Swallowtails are lovely greenish-blue butterflies with orange spots on the undersides of the wings.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillar is quite distinctive, may be a mimic of the tropical onychophorans, called velvet worms. Dark brownish black (occasionally smoky red) with soft fleshy tentacle-like projections, usually red-orange dorsal warts over abdomen. Tentacles on T1 twice as long as those on following segments. ”  We are post-dating your submission to go live later in the month when our editorial staff is away on holiday. 

Thank you!  Yes, what a beautiful butterfly from such a distinctly different caterpillar.  And the caterpillar was so large!  I really appreciate learning more about my friends in Nature.  Virginia Leslie

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:  Our editorial staff will be on holiday for a few weeks, so we are post-dating submissions to go live during our absence.  We hope you enjoy this gorgeous series of images of the life cycle of the Anise Swallowtail

Subject: West Los Angeles sighting – Anise Swallow Tail #1
Location: West Los Angeles
June 1, 2017 12:19 pm
Hi Daniel,
Here’s the first of my sets of pictures you asked me to trickle in. Since I can attach only 3 images, I’m going to send in 4 sets for the swallow tail. If this is too much, please let me know.
Hope you enjoy these.
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Anise Swallowtail Eggs

Thanks Jeff,
We will put together a nice life cycle posting with the images you have sent.  We will distill them down to the best images and we will postdate your submission so it goes live during our absence mid month.  We feel we have to provide you with a challenge though.  Your spectacular life cycle images are lacking critical two stages.  We hope someday you can capture the actual emergence of the adult from the chrysalis, and of course, we always love to post images of mating insects to our Bug Love page.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar: Early Instar

Newly hatched Anise Swallowtails somewhat resemble bird droppings which may help to camouflage them from predators.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

As they grow and molt, later instars of the Anise Swallowtail Caterillar take on the characteristic green color with black and yellow spots.

Anise Swallowtail with Osmetrium

When threatened, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar reveals its osmetrium, a forked orange organ that releases a foul smell to deter predators.

Prepupal Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

As pupation time nears, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar spins a silken girdle to help keep it from hanging down.

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis with Chalcid Wasp

This Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis is being visited by a parasitoid Chalcid Wasp.  Here is a posting from BugGuide that shows a close-up of the Chalcid Wasp.  Butterfly Fun Facts has an excellent description of this Parasitoid, including:  “A healthy chrysalis will have light membranes between its abdominal segments. As wasps grow inside the chrysalis, the membranes turn dark.  Infected chrysalises turn darker and often have a reddish tinge to them.  Remember! When a chrysalis is first infected (eggs laid in the chrysalis) it will appear healthy, have the correct colors and shades, and will move normal. Once the wasp larvae have grown for a few days, the color of the chrysalis will darken.  A chrysalis that has a mature butterfly inside it will also turn dark the day before the butterfly emerges. If a butterfly is inside, you will see the wing pads the day before the butterfly emerges. If it darkens and wing pads cannot be seen, it is a danger sign.”  Unfortunately, a percentage of Swallowtail Chrysalides will never produce an adult if they are preyed upon by parasitoid Chalcid Wasps.

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis

The Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis darkens just before an adult is ready to emerge.

Anise Swallowtail

This is a gorgeous, adult Anise Swallowtail.

Anise Swallowtail

Ovipositing Anise Swallowtail

And the cycle begins anew as a female Anise Swallowtail deposits her eggs on the host plant.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Pleasant Surprise!
Location: West Losangeles
May 26, 2017 11:41 am
Hi Bugman,
I’ve been planting fennel for years to attract anise swallowtail butterflies with sporadic success. Can’t tell you how surprised I was to see a parsley plant covered with caterpillars. I counted 14, but there are probably more. Did a bit of research and learned the plants the larvae eat are in the carrot family, so, I guess parsley is in the carrot family?
One thing I didn’t like about fennel is the caterpillars are exposed and easily seen by predators. With parsley, at least when they are small, the caterpillars are hidden by leaves.
Thx, Jeff
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

Congratulations Jeff,
We are concerned that 14 caterpillars will soon defoliate your parsley plant and that without any food, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars will starve before reaching maturity.  You might want to consider buying a few more parsley plants to help ensure survival.  We occasionally find Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars munching on carrots and parsley in our own garden.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

Hi Daniel,
More parley is on my list.
I have another question for you: Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of the butterflies we’ve lured into our back yard (including caterpillars, chrysalises and eggs). Would you be interested in them or know of any organizations that could use them?
Thx, Jeff

Hi Jeff,
Hundreds arriving at one time would be overwhelming for our tiny staff, but trickling them in slowly to our site would be wonderful.  Please continue to use our standard form for submissions and please confine your submissions to a single species.  Eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides and imagos or adults of the same species arriving together though would be most welcome.  We are especially curious when you first documented the Giant Swallowtail and its caterpillar the Orange Dog as this species was first reported in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, we believe.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination