seeing larvae

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Mon Sep 3 13:36:25 EDT 2001

Kenelm Philip" <fnkwp at> wrote:
> Many years ago I built a 24"x18"x18" screen cage, which has worked
> fine for all the rearings I have tried. I gather a smaller one (even a
> foot cube) will work too.

I have used a Cricket cage for many years for various lycaenids (M. grynea
smilacis, M.  h. hesseli & angulata, Deciduphagus irus arsace)
ovipositions. I have also used sleeving for small leps like Phyciodes
batesii maconensis and hesseli & angulata.

The Cricket cage is a 4 and 3/4 inch square by 6 and 1/2 tall fine metal
wire screen enclosure with a round hole in the plastic top the size of
small margarine tub. This can be purchased at a fishing bait shop. It is
used to house your live Cricket bait. (I get mine without the Crickets).  I
turn mine up side down so the round hole is at the base. I set this on top
of a margarine tub that is also up side down.  The tub is over another
smaller container (what ever I can dig out of the trash). The small
container is filled with water. The inverted margarine tub has a hole cut
into the center of it to fit the size of the stem of what ever host plant I
am using. The plant goes in the hole and into the water. I feed my females
powdered sugar water and place them into the container (they fly up) and
lower this over the plant in set up. I place this in full sun. (the solid
plastic bottom of the Cricket cage is now on top and provides shade. Within
about 1 to 4 hours the female hairstreaks have laid a bunch of eggs.

For sleeving I just use a regular large butterfly net bag. Feed females
with sugar water and place in bag. This is a hotter set up. I sleeve on
outdoor plants. I have a good stand of Aster undulatus - and many other
Asters in my "bug garden" (weed patch - or crappy-looking-place-in-the-yard
as my wife and friends call it), and a White Cedar too.  I once had a
problem with an undetected spider munching out on hesseli or smilacis
larvae on the sleeved Cedar. (I rear both on this with no problem and
forget which it was the spider got most of.)  With one clutch of maconensis
left to hatch and feed on a sleeved undulatus - I lost about all of 100 +
second instars to what was probably a roach that had gotten in at the
bottom where the tie off had gotten loose.

Most of my interest is in skippers and hairstreaks so I don't do much with
the bigger stuff. When I reared hordes of Asterocampa for a research
project several years ago I just gathered clutches of larvae off area
Celtis trees - can be easily found on low shaded scraggly saplings.
Satyrium kingi, D. henrici yahwehus were reared by the old beating method
of getting larvae off host plants in the spring. Swallowtails like asterius
and troilus from low larvae found on their low hosts.

I attempted to get the undescribed southern  Tiger Swallowtail species to
oviposit this year - but they are very uncooperative - plus no one knows
what they oviposit/feed on in the wild - except that they reject ALL know
glaucus hosts and canadensis host are not in its (southern) range. A couple
things are suspected - one highly.  I did get one egg and one 1st instar
larvae - via prayer. I tried to get the female to oviposit on a bunch of
different plants to no avail. I said to God that I really needed at least
one egg. She laid one on the foam spreading board! I thought she was dead
and did not notice the egg till I was about ready to remove her. The egg
was ready to hatch. (This is not my project - I am just a reviewer.  Since
it lives "near" my area of the country I decided to review the research in
the field - what better way to "know" the data is correct?.) Or does this
mean I know too much now and am in too much contact with the authors?  TTR
has found that interactive review is much better than anonymous. Boy, I
changed the subject fast there didn't I.  :-)


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