Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars

  1. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    I found three caterpillars on our Tangerine tree last week. I love butterflies, so I thought I would bring them in and raise them inside. I did this with two caterpillars about a month ago and turned the butterflies loose, so now I'm wondering if this is the next generation! Anyway, here are some pics of the three new caterpillars. I took pics on Thursday, then again Saturday night. You can see how fast they are growing! I'll try to get pics as they chrysalis, but last time they did it in the middle of the night.

    The first three pics are from Thursday and the last two are from Saturday (dates in the bottom right corner).

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  2. Tony G. Fishlore VIP Member

    wow they've gotten huge!!!
  3. Tigerlily Well Known Member Member

    How cool! Wow they grow fast! I'm really looking forward to more pictures.
  4. Lucy Moderator Moderator Member

    You have a real knack for nurturing Gremlin. :)
    Good luck.
  5. Aquarist Fishlore Legend Member

    Hello Gremlin. Too cool! I hope you're able to get photos when they mature into butterfly's. :) Thanks for sharing the photos!
  6. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    Had to put some more leaves in again tonight, so I took some more pictures. The largest caterpillar is 2 inches long now. It will probably chrysalis soon. I would love to be able to get a pic of that, but they always seem to shed in the middle of the night...oh well. So, here is the newest pics.

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  7. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    Took some more pics Thanksgiving night. Two of the caterpillars are ready to change. They both started to chrysalis last night, and one of them had finished by this morning. The second one still hasn't completely chrysalised yet. It will probably finish tonight. I think they must wait until it is completely dark. Anyway, the third caterpillar is also growing nicely, but was so much smaller than the first two it may be a while before it is ready to change.

    Anyway, here are pics from Thanksgiving night...

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  8. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    And then a few more. In the last pic you can see the one that is completely chrysalised and the other is not quite there yet. That's how they look right now too.

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  9. Tigerlily Well Known Member Member

    Your threads are like science lessons, Gremlin. LOL So cool!
  10. Amanda Fishlore VIP Member

    Very cool! Can't wait to see the butterflies!
  11. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    Me either! They are still two of them in chrysalis mode, and one chowing down on fresh leaves again tonight. I think it took about a month last time for them to emerge. I'll make sure I get pictures before I turn them loose. Wish me luck on catching them when they are emerging though...they seem to wait until I go to bed.
  12. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    Well, it has been a while since I updated this thread - even though all three butterflies hatched out and have flown away. I was having computer issues and couldn't do photos and then no computer for 2 weeks. Anyway, I'm back and can now put on the pictures of the butterflies:

    First, we have the third caterpillar finally forming a chrysalis

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  13. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    Then, we have the first two caterpillars that have hatched out (overnight so I missed it) and are ready to fly away. My Aunt was over that day, so she got to "hold" a butterfly for the first time in her life. It was a cloudy day with a few sprinkles, so we put them on the orange tree up under the carport where they would be protected. The stayed there all that day and night, and flew off the next morning once the sun was out.

    Oh, and notice that the two butterflies have a bit different pattern on their wings.

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  14. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    Then, of course, the last butterfly hatched out the early morning after Christmas. Too bad it didn't hatch on Christmas day - that would have been fun for the kids to see. Oh well. I guess even butterflies like their privacy!

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  15. Lucy Moderator Moderator Member

    Wow, thanks for the updates! That's just so cool.
    You have a nurturing way with animals/insects.
  16. Tigerlily Well Known Member Member

    I love the pic of the first two on your orange tree with oranges on the branches. As Lucy noted, you are a very nurturing person. Thank you so much for sharing this very interesting process
  17. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    That is just really cool! Thanks so much for sharing the pics with us.
  18. Elodea Well Known Member Member

    Beautiful photos of the Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)! You are a very gentle, nurturing person to actually raise these magnificent butterflies! Oh, and by the way, you must be very lucky...all three are females!
  19. gremlin Well Known Member Member

    You're welcome. I enjoy all sorts of creatures and bugs. I figure, if I leave the caterpillars outside, their survival rate is quite low due to all the birds around. If I bring them inside, they have a 100 % chance of becoming adult butterflies. This way, I am increasing the population of good critters in my neighborhood. Oh, and the oranges still are not ripe. Soon though.

    How do you tell? I thought they might be since they were all so nice and chubby - if that makes a difference. I hope there was at least one male around somewhere though...after all, it takes both for the next generation!
  20. Elodea Well Known Member Member

    If you look at the front wings, the third yellow oval from the edge of the wing is larger than the others. According to Bugguide, the ovals of the females have a black spot in them, the ovals of the males don't and are solid yellow.

    As you can see, the first one is a male and the second is a female (yellow ovals circled in red)

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