|Barked: Fri Aug 16, '13 10:53am PST |
|raising butterflies starts by growing their host plants in a region where they are likely to be. With black Eastern swallowtails that's, Parsley, rue, dill, queen anne's lace, carrots, parsnip, or other related plant grown in any region east of the Rocky mountains except florida
If you make a condition where the plants are slightly stressed, it's like a bat (butterfly) signal to the mama butterfly. For example, I live in an apartment in the middle of the city with none of these other plants within a mile of me, and mama swallowtail was drawn to my heat stressed parsley like a magnet. YOu can also feed her by setting out a butterfly feeding station, which is basically like a hummingbird one, sugar water in a mason jar, put a nail through the metal lid, thread a small square of kitchen sponge through the nail hole, and tighten the lid, then hang upside down.
The females will come and deposit eggs. From then it's just a matter of keeping them safe from predators and bad weather until they are ready to pupate. predators are wasps, vermin, and birds. Once they are ready, you can put them in little containers of their own, or put them in a big rubbermaid tote with sticks and they will climb up and pupate. a week or too later in the summer, they will start emerging. In the fall they will diapause until spring. It's totally fun to raise them. When they come out, they are super easy to handle, just let them crawl onto you and don't touch their wings. I was using a stick because it was more natural to crawl onto the stick first.
Caterpillars are awesome, because though they defoliate the host plant, the frass they make (that's their poo) is super rich fertilizer, and it smells like the host plant. Black swallowtail frass smells like minced parsley. If you find that they defoliate all your plants, buy organic from the store. Fortunately, curled parsley is usually very cheap.
I suppose you could buy them, but why? I was just doing this for fun I don't contain them any more than necessary. some people actually make a business of growing them for release at weddings and stuff.
Edited by author Fri Aug 16, '13 10:55am PST
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