Mutated Monarch

Mark bugman at
Tue Sep 7 17:36:28 EDT 1999

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This sounds like the damage you would see if the butterfly fell during
sclerotization (body hardening). It could also be caused by undernourished
caterpillars, though often this results in small adults.

There are numerous viruses that effect the larval development of monarchs, and some
of these are transmitted in the air and may (or may not - don't really know) infect
other species. Since monarch and swallowtails are different families, it is
possible that a virus is not general enough to switch between them.

There are also a number of parasites of monarchs. Many attack the larvae or eggs
and the butterflies never get to the adult stage. I have never heard of one that
acts simply to cripple the adult (since the parasitic larva will eat as much as it
can and if there were to be leftovers, the mother would have deposited more eggs -
nothing goes to waste!)

I do know of some wasps that lay eggs in the newly formed pupae and consume the
developing butterfly, but all that emerges is a wasp. Same thing happens with
monarch eggs, some parasites producing up to 10 adults from one monarch egg -
imagine that!

Did you say this happened to more than one animal? If it was only one, sometimes
stuff happens!

have fun with your cool bflies!!

donald haarmann wrote:

> EE <great at> wrote in message news:37CF97DF.615FCF34 at
> > I've been raising Eastern Black Swallowtails in southern Ontario (to
> > educate myself) for the past few years. I haven't had any problems with
> > them.
> > The first of 10 emerged this morning. It's definitely mutated. The
> > proboscis looks like a bifurcated corkscrew, and won't/can't uncoil,
> [snip]
> I'll give you a WAG.
> The eggs were stored where the relative humidity was not optimal.
> --
> ----------------------------
> donald j haarmann - independently dubious

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