Butterfly-predacious Hornets

Laurel Godley godley at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 3 11:54:29 EDT 1998


Interesting blurb.  This would be most distressing for a lep lover.  May 
I suggest one option for 'controlling' the wasps.  A freind was sent a 
preying mantis last summer and we discovered that they will quite 
happily feed on yellow jackets.  The mantis was very effiecient!  But as 
they would  most cetianly eat your butterflies too, may I given an 
additional (if unorthidox) tip.  We performed our 'experiment' on the  
patio during dinner time.  The yellow jackets would come when ever there 
was bbq meat.  So we opted to put aside a small peace offering with our 
mantis perched atop.  Wonderful trap! I'd highly recommend it as a 
biological control method.  Hope this suggestion helps.

Best Regards...  Laurel 
>Due to responses,  both here and via email,  resulting from my last
>summer’s observations and report here,  of yellow-orange hornet
>predation of small butterflies on a large Butterfly Bush in our
>backyard,  the following brief of recent observations  is offered.  
>1 -  The yellow-orange colored hornets may not eat the small butterfly
>body on the tree branch they fly them to,  but may process them into a
>pulp ball,  which they take to their nest,  for feeding their young or
>other adults.
>2  -  Confirming last summer’s suspicions that the more common black &
>cream colored hornets may also take small butterflies,  I was
>surprised to observe one take a  much larger,  black & blue colored
>swallowtail day before yesterday.   After engaging the swallowtail on
>a bloom,  the two tumbled down through the branches and leaves of the
>butterfly bush to the ground.   With it’s tail curled over the top,
>at the front of the butterfly,  the hornet chewed away the head and
>approximately 1 third  to 1 half of of the thorax from the underside,
>processed it into a pulp ball,  and flew it away from the site,
>leaving the wings intact with the remainder of the body.  Unlike with
>the yellow-orange hornets,  I was able to make this observation at
>approximately two feet.
>3  -  Yesterday I checked the spot where the above butterfly remains
>had been,  and found they were gone.  This came as no surprise.  What
>was surprising was that a close observation of the ground beneath the
>butterfly bush today,  revealed no less than four,  and possibly five,
>piles of yellow swallowtail butterfly wings,  or wings with bodies
>less heads and portions of thorax,  as described above.  It also
>revealed remains of one or two additional black & blue swallowtails.
>One of the yellow swallowtails still had a few of its legs and they
>were still moving.
>4  -  In addition to seeing both yellow-orange,  and black & cream,
>hornets searching over the bush today,  I also observed a
>yellow-jacket following the same pattern of skimming over the blossoms
>and bumping into any occupant there-on.  Having observed a
>yellow-jacket take a candlefly a number of years ago,  I now fully
>expect to observe one take a small butterfly.   
>note:  To date,  I still have not heard of,  or seen,  any coverage of
>the above subject beyond last summer’s report and its responses.  Some
>may care to consider the subject for documenting or assignment.  If
>so,  some attention may be given to how to discourage hornets from
>taking butterflies from backyard buttryfly bushes,  or how to educate
>them on the displeasure they cause the bush owner.  
>While I am pro-ecology,  most people <self included> will wipe out a
>hornets nest or yellow-jackets nest without hesitation.  Its difficult
>for most to stand by and watch the harmless beautiful things they’ve
>worked to attract,  be reduced by an element they will scarcely
>tolerate under any circumstance.  Seems 
>somewhat analogous to allowing the fox to ‘have at’ your phesants.
>If I can be of help with more detail or questions,  here,  or via
>email,  I will be pleased to try.
>‘JW’ - in NC  <  dl4 at ols.net  >  note 2nd character is an ‘L’, not a

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