Some classics just never go out of style. Such is the case for the book “Butterflies and Moths: A Guide to the More Common American Species” by Robert T. Mitchell and Herbert S. Zim. Most field guides eventually go out of print and become unavailable over time as their information becomes outdated and new guides are produced. To my knowledge, this book has been in continuous print since it originally came out in 1964.
I have been a butterfly gardener for many years. Each year I try to add to existing gardens or take out gardens that don’t seem to be performing as well as I would like (when I say perform, I mean attracting butterflies). This year I wanted to do something new with an existing garden that over the past few years had just become overgrown, not only with weeds but with wildflowers and trees as well. This 13 foot by 13 foot garden had become unmanageable and with the exception of a butterfly bush and a wafer ash tree, nothing in it was attracting butterflies (the wafer ash was attracting giant swallowtails pretty regularly).
Welcome to part two of my caterpillar food plant series (the first of which was on Saturniidae moth food plants seen HERE). For this entry I am focusing on the five species of Swallowtail butterflies (family Papilionidae) from New England. This list does not include strays; only species that can be found in this area normally. The Papilionidae, numbering over 700 species worldwide, are among our largest and most spectacular of butterflies!
EASTERN BLACK SWALLOWTAIL – Papilio polyxenes asterius
Carrot (Daucus), dill (Anetheum), fennel (Foeniculum), parsley (Petroselinum), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus), rue (Ruta).
Raising Lepidoptera has been a hobby that I have enjoyed ever since I was a kid. Though raising butterflies has always been fun, it is raising the giant silkmoths, family Saturniidae, that has been my favorite aspect of rearing. Thankfully I live in an area that includes a great representation of these amazing moths, even though their wild populations do seem to be dwindling with each passing year. What I present to you is a list of the most commonly used caterpillar foodplants for these moths representing nine species. This list is in no way meant to be complete and only through experimentation can new plants be added to this ever-growing list.
So, if you have never raised Saturniid larvae before, or even if you are a seasoned veteran, this list will hopefully be helpful in guaranteeing your success! Good luck and have fun!
THE LUNA MOTH – Actias luna
Aspen (Populus), Bayberry (Myrica), Beech (Fagus), Birch (Betula), Butternut (Juglans), Chestnut (Castanaea), Hickory (Carya), Hops (Humulus), Hornbeam (Carpinus), Maple (Acer), Oak (Quercus), Pecan (Carya), Sweetgum (Liquidambar), Sycamore (Platanus), Tulip Tree (Liriodendron), Walnut (Juglans).