Last week we went to a Master Naturalist meeting and heard a talk about butterflies. I was surprised how much stuff I didn’t know about them. Here are some interesting things that I learned.
1. Life span: 1 week to 1 year
2. Can fly as far as 9000 miles when migrating
3. Great nectar plants are zinnias, cosmos, lantana, butterfly bush.
4. Need a host plant to lay eggs like milkweed.
5. May mate from 24 -36 hours.
6. Butterflies lay eggs on leaves and moths lay the on bark.
7. Good book for reference: Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David Wagner
8. A butterfly makes a chrysalis (both have a “y” in them) and a moth makes a cocoon (both have an “o” in them).
9. Butterfly makes a chrysalis in minutes.
10. Butterflies usually come out of the chrysalis in the morning to give their wings time to dry.
11. Male butterfly has 2 bottom black dots.
12. Black swallowtail – host plants are fennel or parsley.
13. State butterfly – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail usually seen in Spring around March. Female form is black.
14. Zebra swallowtail – host plant is the paw paw; seen at Paris Mtn. State Park.
15. Pipevine Swallowtail – lays eggs in clusters; red/orange red eggs laid on pipevine.
16. Spicebush Swallowtail – host plant can be spicebush or sassafras. They wrap themselves in the leaf.
17. Moths have thicker bodies than butterflies and are nocturnal (butterflies are diurnal).
18. Cicropia Moths are one of the largest caterpillars about in. long.
19. Poop is called frass.
20. Cocoons are made of silk. White silk turns brown.
21. Feathery (leaflike) antennas are male and skinny antennas are female.
22. Imperial moths bury under ground.
23. Lunar Moth lives 3-5 days, host is sweet gum, can smell a female 8 miles away.
24. Promethea moths – stays in group entire time as caterpillars. If separated, they starve.
25. Stay away from flannel moths – found in pecan trees, causes breathing issues and rash.
26. Don’t touch saddleback moth – found on Mexican petunia, can cause rash.
27. Monarchs arrive here in April, head to midest in May, head to Canada in June, come back through here in Mid August heading south to Mexico.
28. Cut back milkweed in mid July for migration.