how do they do it? seeing larvae

Chris Conlan conlan at
Mon Sep 3 02:30:36 EDT 2001

Maybe I just get lucky a lot but even a rather small cage (12 - 18 inches 
square) has worked just fine for me with many butterflies including several
swallowtails.  The trick is to keep them fed and make sure they are given
warmth and sunshine.  You also need to place just enough of the foodplant in
the cage so that they are frequently bumping into it when flying around in
the cage (usually this means a few sprigs spaced around the inside perimeter
and top of the cage).  Within a few days I usually get enough eggs to work
with.  The females get banged up in the smaller cages but they usually still
As for finding the larvae in the's not that hard with a little
practice.  The tiger swallowtail larvae (and many other swallowtails) just
sit on top of the leaves and you can see the outline of the larva against
the sky if standing under the tree looking up.  When you know which
hostplant to look on it's not that hard.  Out here (So. Cal) the western
tigers use a few plants but I used to find them on the willows in the
canyons and also sometimes on the sycamores in suburbia.  Another great way
to find larvae is to just walk the canyons and look for frass on the ground
below hostplants and then look directly above the "evidence" for feeding
damage or the culprit.  I find all kinds of Sphinx/Saturniid/Papilionid
larvae this way.  Practice practice practice!



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