giant swallowtail returns

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Sun Jul 4 15:02:26 EDT 1999

> Chris Conlan wrote:
> >However, it is extremely important to understand that just because a
> particular Lep can be
> > induced to feed on Persea americana (typical avocado) in captivity in no
> way
> > means that the adult female would oviposit on it under natural
> conditions.
Would larvae reared on it go looking for it when they got around to
laying eggs?
I wondered about this when a lepper I know attempted to raise Atala
butterflies (Eumaeus atala) on cardboard palm, a cycad which is
plentiful in
South Florida gardens. Their host plant, coontie, is uncommon in the
wild and expensive to buy.
He said that the adult males raised on cardboard palm were unable to
seduce the females.
I think what I'm asking is whether the butterfly seeks out the
accustomed plant or a suitable plant.
> > Tossing a new (non native) Persea species into the mix doesn't mean it's
> > going to get used right away (if it even gets used at all).  This process
> > takes time and acceptance will certainly vary among species.
> I would certainly agree with Chris here but I think it is worth mentioning
> that the best botanists in the world are butterflies and moths! They have
> too much to lose if they get it wrong.
The Giant Swallowtail oviposits on garden rue, which you and I would not
have guessed was related to the citrus. I hope botanists ask the
butterflies before they make decisions about assigning plants to
 Of course some more tolerant larva
> will take foodplants that the adults won't lay on, but also remember
> butterflies are also opportunists! One fine example is Charaxes baumanni
> from Central Africa. This butterfly's larva feeds on Acacia pennata,
> Pterilobium lacerans and Pterilobium stellatuen, however with the
> introduction of Caesalpinia decapetala as a hedge plant from Asia into
> urban areas of Africa, this has completly changed it's status! Never common
> before it has now accepted Caesalpinia in preference to all other
> foodplants and has been increasing in numbers and in some areas where it is
> now considered very common!
> Nigel
We are probably changing the urban and suburban populations of
butterflies tremendously by manipulating the plants we make accessible.
That's why I hope we're remembering to plant for the plain brown bugs as
well as the monarchs.
Teach the kids to find Cassius blue larvae (Leptotes cassia) in plumbago
flowers and it makes up,  I hope, for the fact that it's a non-native
As for the avocado, mine seems to be very interesting to Cassius blue
butterflies and to the giant swallowtails. I suppose they're nectaring
on honeydew, but that's purely surmise. Maybe they just think they look
pretty against that shade of green.
Anne Kilmer
Where I have just had a major rainbow to celebrate the Fourth of July.

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