> Butterflies

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

Lots of hungry mouths to feed! These little guys can finish off a pipevine leaf in just a few minutes. Keeping enough host plants for all the caterpillars is the biggest challenge in raising butterflies.

Pipevine Swallowtails will only eat pipevine. The plant looks like a large, sturdy Morning Glory (heart-shaped leaves). It likes to climb trees and does not grow well from cuttings, but transplates okay.

When the caterpillar has reached its optimum size, it will fasten itself to a beam or branch, and wait. The chrysallis forms from the inside (not like a cocoon, which is spun around the outside). Eventually, the caterpillar skin falls away, leaving the firm chrysallis to hang until conditions are right (a couple of weeks during the summer--several months over the winter). Then the new butterfly will emerge.

It only takes a few seconds from start to finish, for the butterfly to emerge, but then it must hang free for up to a half hour, to let its wings dry and firm up, so it can fly.

These photos were all taken in our daughter Katie's yard in Cottonwood, California. She transplanted pipevine from hazardous areas to safer places in her yard. The caterpillars were rescued from a plant with only 2 leaves and relocated to larger, heallthier "all you can eat" pipevine buffet.

Her work pays off. During the summer, Katie's flowering trees hold hundreds of beutiful, black, Pipevine Swallowtails.

Click here to send me an email.