LEPIDOPTERA LIFE CYCLES: The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The red admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, is one of the most widespread butterflies in the United States. It belongs to the Nymphalidae family and is known for its bright red forewing bands contrasted by the black and white that covers the remainder of its wings. They are fast, erratic flyers and are often confused with painted ladies, who are the same size and fly the same way. Oftentimes it is not until one actually lands that a positive identification can be made.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Lepidopteran Zoology: How to Keep Moths, Butterflies, Caterpillars and Chrysalises” by Orin McMonigle

If you are a regular reader here then the name Orin McMonigle should not be new to you. I have read many of his books and even reviewed one of them HERE. Orin reminds me of myself on so many levels as I too have spent my life keeping live creepy crawlies and what he is doing is providing sound information for those like-minded people.

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SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Battus philenor, the Pipevine Swallowtail

Welcome to part one of a series I am doing called Species Spotlight. Each entry will showcase one particular species of invertebrate, whether it’s a butterfly, a moth, an arachnid or a millipede. Wherever possible I will use my own photographs and each entry will feature general information of the species as well as any additional notes that I can add, based on working with said species. The topic of this entry is the Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor. 

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BOOK REVIEW: “Butterflies and Moths: A Guide to the More Common American Species”

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 Most field guides eventually go out of print and become unavailable over time as their information becomes outdated and new guides are produced.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.

SCAN0001The original library hardcover version of this classic book!

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BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION – Every Little Bit Helps

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).

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LARVAL FOODPLANTS OF SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLIES OF THE EASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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Carrot (Daucus), dill (Anetheum), fennel (Foeniculum), parsley (Petroselinum), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus), rue (Ruta).

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LARVAL FOODPLANTS OF SATURNIID MOTHS OF THE EASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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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).

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