California Sisters life cycle

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Tue Jun 29 11:19:04 EDT 1999

  Good news. Thanks for letting me know.
  My butterfly garden has produced a good crop of 
*Heraclides cresphontes* - GIANT SWALLOWTAIL on RUE, 
*Agraulis vanillae incarnata* - WESTERN GULF FRITILLARY on an undetermined
*Asterocampa clyton texana* - TEXAN TAWNY EMPRESS on SUGARBERRY, and 
*Calpodes ethlius* - CANNA/BRAZILIAN SKIPPER on CANNA. 
  A pale green conehead pupa on JOHNSON GRASS turned out to be *Lerema
  Many more species have been seen passing through. Good nectar sources
have been *Lantana camara*, *Lantana horrida*, MEXICAN BLUE SAGE, SMALL RED
SAGE, *Penta*, but the best has been a large 7-year-old high bush VERVAIN
with tiny flowers, which I have been told is a noxious weed introduced from
Uruguay. Does anyone have information on this? 
  We are now quite hot here but still have rain weekly so the July count
should be exceptional.

At 04:20  29/06/99 PDT, you wrote:
>thanks for the info you provided.  The Cal Sisters have started to hatch.  
>The first nine eggs were laid on a cut piece of oak.  Now I have the 
>remaining sister in with a potted plant and she is busy laying eggs still.  
>I put another in the flight house on Friday and haven't seen her since but 
>perhaps she is still around.  I forgot to check for eggs on Sunday but will 
>tonight.  Not so many eggs (yet) that I would want to preserve any of them 
>pre-adult stage.  Intersting  inf. though.
>best wishes...  Laurel
>>From: Chris Durden <drdn at>
>>To: Laurel Godley <godley at>
>>CC: leps-l at
>>Subject: Re: California Sisters life cycle
>>Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 17:55:49 -0500
>>   Good luck Laurel.
>>   For tips on raising this species I would suggest putting out a call on
>>leps-l for information from Europe or Japan on raising *Limenitis populi*.
>>It may be one of the closest relatives of your beast. Tips for raising *L.
>>populi* could apply to CALIFORNIA SISTERS.
>>   I would suggest trying several methods. Separate some of the hatchling
>>larvae for solitary rearing. If they have trouble getting started on the
>>oak leaves, chop the leaves so they have fresh damaged surfaces to get
>>started on. If the first kind of oak is not accepted try others from
>>different trees or from different oak species. You could try a cheescloth
>>or net sleeve on an oak branch outside if you have trouble keeping foliage
>>fresh. I suspect the larvae may start feeding as a group, then wander off
>>as individuals as they get older. Keep solitary larvae separate to prevent
>>   You may want to photograph each stage or take specimens for future
>>reference. In any case the shed headcap can be kept to guide your
>>identification of the instar in future. Headcaps can be saved in small
>>gelatin capsules (from the drugstore or herb store) pinned (with label) in
>>the collection.
>>   To make durable specimens of lepidopteran larvae -
>>1. boil water and take it off the hotplate.
>>2. drop larva into hot (almost boiling water) to poach the proteins. Larva
>>will clench as it dies very quickly, then the body relaxes extended.
>>3. fish the larva out and preserve in 85% ethyl alcohol (best) or 75%
>>isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol (not as good).
>>4. the preserved (and labelled) larva can be kept indefinitely in the dark
>>in a securely stoppered glass vial. It is efficient to keep a number of
>>vials with larvae in a sealer jar of preservative. Colors will change in
>>time, so a photograph is most important.
>>5. the preserved (and labelled) larva can be mounted in clear embedding
>>plastic (available at most hobby stores).
>>  Alternatively the larva may be killed and fixed in an acetic acid - 
>>alcohol mixture (I can look up a recipie if you wish). When fixed this way
>>the muscles turn out rigid and it may be dehydrated by soaking in stronger
>>and stronger alcohol. It is then removed from alcohol, dried, glued to a
>>card on an insect pin, labelled and kept dry in the collection. These dried
>>larvae can be painted in lifelike colors (watercolor) but this does muddy
>>up some of the tiny characters used in research.
>>  I give these directions because butterflies lay hundreds of eggs to
>>compensate for normall loss to parasites, disease and predators along the
>>way. If all goes well you should end up with more than you have time to
>>care for.
>>............Chris Durden
>>At 02:14 PM 1999:06:21 PDT, you wrote:
>> >Chris,
>> >
>> >Ok.  I have them.  Was up in the Sierra foothills last week and they
>> >practically flew into my net.  Either that or my back swing is getting
>> >better!  No fish soup needed.
>> >
>> >Saturday's plant search showed four eggs.  Hopefully more now.  I'm
>> >wondering if there is anything specail or odd about their life cycle that 
>> >should know?  Seems I've amazed a fair number of people by my desire or
>> >affliction to rear the most difficult of all the leps; checkerspots,
>> >fritillaries and parnassius.  I'm less than gifted intellectually so how
>> >should I know know any better eh?
>> >
>> >Same as telling a small child that they "can't."  "Well why not."  
>> >you just can't," says the adult.  Well like most full-grown children, I
>> >guess I'm irrationally stubborn.  Oh goody, I get to rear sisters!  Now I
>> >just need to figure out how best to do it, while killing the least 
>> >by-standing critters with my less than gifted intellect.  Sorry, I'm 
>> >happy and whimsical today!
>> >
>> >Wish me luck...  Laurel
>> >
>> >
>> >_______________________________________________________________
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