Fennel Stories #1 Black Swallowtail

Fennel Stories
#1 Black Swallowtail
Papilio polyxenes

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes female on Virginia Mountain Mint. July 31, 2014. Leamington, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes female on Virginia Mountain Mint. July 31, 2014. Leamington, Ontario.

 

Four six-packs of fennel dumped unceremoniously in a clump into the garden for the Black Swallowtails Papilio polyxenes. Better late than never, the fennel didn’t get planted until mid-June.

 

 

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillars in different stages of development. August 17, 2015, Leamington, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillars in different stages of development. August 17, 2015, Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

Caterpillars kept popping up all summer, not that they lasted long.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillar (about 3rd instar) on fennel with forked defense system (osmeterium) in operation. July 27, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillar (about 3rd instar) on fennel with forked defense system (osmeterium) in operation. July 27, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

Plagued by wasps and hornets of every description that buzzed frantically through the fennel, always searching. The most torturous were the Yellow Jackets, patrolling ceaselessly, hoping for a green/black capture. The caterpillars, like all Swallowtails, have a defense system – an orange osmeterium (oz-ma-TER-e-um), a forked appendage that pops out of the top of their heads. The foul odor it emits is supposed to frighten off predators, but it doesn’t work too well.

Another wasp predator called the Swallowtail Ichneumon Trogus pennator lay their eggs right inside the caterpillars, eventually killing them.

 

 

 

Swallowtail Ichneumon Wasp Trogus pennator laying eggs in Black Swallowtail caterpillar Papilio polyxenes. Sept. 21, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Swallowtail Ichneumon Wasp Trogus pennator laying eggs in Black Swallowtail caterpillar Papilio polyxenes. Sept. 21, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

 

 

Biodiversity – where everybody is somebody else’s lunch.

 

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes chrysalis under a brick overhang. Sept. 11, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes chrysalis under a brick overhang. Sept. 11, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

One made it to pupation. Smart and cautious, it formed a chrysalis under a brick overhang on the house.

Danaus plexippus

Monarch
Danaus plexippus

 

Second wave of Monarch Danaus plexippus on Purple Salvia, the only food left in our yard. Oct 14, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Second wave of Monarch Danaus plexippus on Purple Salvia, the only food left in our yard. Oct 14, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

Update: October 14, 2017

Since the last update of September 25, 2017, another huge wave of Monarchs have been pouring through Leamington.

Numbers have again steadily increased since the first of October, from 1 or 2 a day to 10 a day. Friday, October 13, 2017 driving to Point Pelee National Park about 20 were seen. The trip was more complicated and a little longer than expected with a necessary detour spanning a couple of concessions and back roads – but all with lots of Monarchs flying.

Stopped at the Sanctuary which is the first path to Lake Erie in the Park, a favourite haunt for Swallowtails with all the Hoptrees. An old, half dead Butternut held about 10 Monarchs, then the sun broke out and they all started flying. By the lakeshore dune area, a steady stream of them were seen flying along the shoreline, heading south.

An attempt to capture flying Monarchs Danaus plexippus at West Beach, Point Pelee National Park, Oct. 13, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
An attempt to capture flying Monarchs Danaus plexippus at West Beach, Point Pelee National Park, Oct. 13, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

Down at West Beach, the last ‘use your own vehicle’ stop before the end of the point, it was the same, with 50 or 60 of them (I lost count) flying around the grasses along the shore. None of them stopped long enough for a picture. The flowers, mostly Asters and Goldenrod have long disappeared. What are they eating?

A close approximation – about 200 Monarchs were seen.

Stopped at the gas station on my way back and met a friend who also was astonished at the number of Monarchs. He counted 31 of them on dandelions in the field next to his house, which is a few concessions from the Park.

Go Monarchs!

Danaus plexippus

Monarch
Danaus plexippus

Update Sep 25, 2017.

Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis. The first one to use Purple-stemmed Aster. September 03, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis. The first one to use Purple-stemmed Aster. September 03, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.

 

The last chrysalis hatched out Sep 24, 2017, after forming its pupa on Sep 03 – a total of 21 days. Photo from Sep 3rd.

 

 

 

 

Under all those dead aster leaves is a dark chrysalis Monarch Danaus plexippus ready to hatch. Sept 24, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Under all those dead aster leaves is a dark chrysalis Monarch Danaus plexippus ready to hatch. Sept 24, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

 

Chrysalis on Sep 24, barely visible under all those Aster leaves.

The images are very poor due to difficulty parting the clump of Asters without disturbing the butterfly.

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus just hatched on Aster. Sept 24, 2017. Leamington, Ontario. The last one of the season.
Monarch Danaus plexippus just hatched on Aster. Sept 24, 2017. Leamington, Ontario. The last one of the season.

During these last days of summer, there were 2 chrysalis on Morning Glory, 2 on Meadowsweet Spiraea alba directly in front of the Morning Glories, 1 on Steeplebush Spiraea tomentosa which was next to the Meadowsweet, and 2 more in Purple-stemmed Asters which were closer to their original food plant Swamp Milkweed.

Monarch Danaus plexippus on Butterfly Bush Aug 29, 2005, Wheatley, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus on Butterfly Bush Aug 29, 2005, Wheatley, Ontario.

 

On the 24th, a total of 5 Monarch, including the last one to hatch visited the yard.

Today (Sep 25th), only one stopped by for a snack on Tall Boneset.

I suspect this is the end of their season. Bye Monarchs.

 

Danaus plexippus

Monarch
Danaus plexippus

Update: September 22, 2017

Two weeks ago 2 to 3 Monarchs a day were flying through the yard. They didn’t dally, but grabbed a quick snack and were on their way, flying southwest.
Last week the numbers picked-up to 4 a day. By the weekend (Sept 15-17, 2017) 10 to 12 a day. None stayed more than a few minutes.

Monarch Danaus plexippus male hatched after 19 days on Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus male hatched after 19 days on Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

Length of time in pupa is generally 10 to 15 days. It appears things move a bit more slowly in Ontario. This is day 19 and finally a Monarch adult male hatched from the Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba). It formed its chrysalis on September 3, 2017 and hatched today September 22, 2017. (see photos previous Monarch blog).

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis after 18 days on Steeplebush. Maybe tomorrow it will hatch. Sep 22, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis after 18 days on Steeplebush. Maybe tomorrow it will hatch. Sep 22, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

 

Two more chrysalis found on Sept 04-17 are not hatched yet, maybe tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus male at left on Meadowsweet; at right on Morning Glory. Just hatched Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario. In chrysalis for 19 days.
Monarch Danaus plexippus male at left on Meadowsweet; at right on Morning Glory. Just hatched Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario. In chrysalis for 19 days.

While photographing the newly hatched adult, another one was discovered not a foot away, under a Morning Glory leaf on the fence. How did I miss that one?

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus female just hatch under a Morning Glory leaf. Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario
Monarch Danaus plexippus female just hatch under a Morning Glory leaf. Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario

Possibly the fall migration has begun early this year. Latest forecast has day-time highs of 7 C. or 45 F. for the 1st week of October.

 

Stay tuned.

Monarch Danaus plexippus spent chrysalis on Morning Glory. Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus spent chrysalis on Morning Glory. Sept. 22, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

Danaus plexippus

Monarch
Danaus plexippus

 

Update September 3 and 4, 2017.

Monarch Danaus plexippus. The other one of the last of two caterpillars still on Swamp Milkweed. September 04, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus. The other one of the last of two caterpillars still on Swamp Milkweed. September 04, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

Only two of the smaller Monarch caterpillar left on the Swamp Milkweed.

 

 

 

All the others wandered off.

Monarch Danaus plexippus. The last of two caterpillars still on Swamp Milkweed. September 04, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus. The last of two caterpillars still on Swamp Milkweed. September 04, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis formed on Meadowsweet Spiraea alba. September 03, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis formed on Meadowsweet Spiraea alba. September 03, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.

 

The first one, found on Narrow-leaf Meadowsweet Spiraea alba has form chrysalis.

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis. The first one to use Purple-stemmed Aster. September 03, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis. The first one to use Purple-stemmed Aster. September 03, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.

Two more of them preferred Purple-stemmed Asters Symphotrichum puniceum.

Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis. The second one to use Purple-stemmed Aster, about 6 inches away from the first one. September 04, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus chrysalis. The second one to use Purple-stemmed Aster, about 6 inches away from the first one. September 04, 2017. Leamington, Ontario.

Danaus plexippus

Monarch
Danaus plexippus

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus on Cardinal Flower. August 30, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus on Cardinal Flower. August 30, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

The Leamington Monarch Trail gardens project started in 2014 to help with migrating Monarchs.

The trail is part of a 17 click system travelling through Leamington. The butterfly garden is about 5 clicks long, right beside the main trail. Many volunteers and Point Pelee National Park helped to build these gardens.

“It’s the municipality vision that this project will help restore and support the large number of monarch butterflies that migrate through the Leamington area and create a natural spectacle to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” said Leamington’s Chief Administrative Officer, Peter Neufeld in a media release.

Monarch Danaus plexippus 3 larvae on Swamp Milkweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus 3 larvae on Swamp Milkweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

In 2014, the monarch butterfly population was the lowest ever.

I had 10 Monarchs in the yard yesterday (August 29, 2017) and 7 caterpillars on the Swamp Milkweed.

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus on Tall Ironweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus on Tall Ironweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

Soon we may be the Butterfly Capital of Canada.

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus larva on Swamp Milkweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus larva on Swamp Milkweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus on Joe-Pye Weed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus on Joe-Pye Weed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch Danaus plexippus larva on Swamp Milkweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.
Monarch Danaus plexippus larva on Swamp Milkweed. August 29, 2017 Leamington, Ontario.

Polygonia interrogationis

Question Mark
Polygonia interrogationis

Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis summer form on Dogwood June 05, 2010. Wheatley, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis summer form on Dogwood June 05, 2010. Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: Orange with dark marks. Summer form immigrates to Ontario in mid-April and has dark hind wings outlined in silver. This form is present all season until September. The winter form has orange hind wings and represents the last brood or generation that migrates south.

Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis summer form on Butterfly Bush, July 24, 2015 Leamington, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis summer form on Butterfly Bush, July 24, 2015 Leamington, Ontario.

Similar Species: Eastern Comma is smaller and has only three transverse spots in the mid upperside of the forewing, whereas the Question Mark has the three spots plus a dash.

Size: 45 to 68 mm wingspan. Larva to 4.5cm long.

Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis feeding on sap at Point Pelee, Delaurier House, April 16, 2012.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis feeding on sap at Point Pelee, Delaurier House, April 16, 2012.

 

Habitat: Old woods with open areas, meadows, edges of farmer fields, parks.

Food: Rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion. Also flowers: Purple Coneflower, Oregano (herb) Butterfly Bush, Honeysuckle, Dogwood, Viburnum, fruit tree blossoms, Virgin’s Bower, Tall Boneset.

Larvae feed on American elm Ulmus americanus, Hackberry Celtis, Japanese Hop Humulus japonicus (exotic), Nettles Urtica, and False Nettle Boehmeria cylindrica.

Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis winter form September 16, 2013 on Tall Boneset. Wheatley, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis winter form September 16, 2013 on Tall Boneset. Wheatley, Ontario.

Flight Time: In spring immigrants re-colonize in mid-April, leaving in September/October.

Life Cycle: Eggs are bright green, keg-shaped and ribbed. Eggs laid in mid-April and again mid to late July. Caterpillars feeding singly on the underside of leaves. Two generations per year, 2nd generation has light colored hind wings (winter form) and migrates south, with strays found as far south as Cuba.

Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis winter form September 16, 2013 on Tall Boneset. Wheatley, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis winter form September 16, 2013 on Tall Boneset. Wheatley, Ontario.

Comments: Essex County north to Lake Superior.

Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis mature larvae August 12, 2009 on Hops (Humulus) Aug 12, 2009. Wheatley, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis mature larvae August 12, 2009 on Hops (Humulus) Aug 12, 2009. Wheatley, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis young larvae June 08, 2006 on Dwarf Hackberry. Wheatley, Ontario.
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis young larvae June 08, 2006 on Dwarf Hackberry. Wheatley, Ontario.

Polygonia comma

Eastern Comma or Hop Merchant
Polygonia comma
Po-lee-GOH-nee-uh

Eastern Comma Polygonia comma on Tall Boneset. September 18, 2013, Wheatley, Ontario.
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma on Tall Boneset. September 18, 2013, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: Orange with black marks and series of yellowish dots along hind wing edge. A summer form in June and July has hind wings entirely dark. Underside has a silver curved line in center of top wing, called a comma.

Size: 37 to 65 mm wing span. Larva to 4 cm long.

Eastern Comma Polygonia comma on Butterfly Bush. September 26, 2012 Wheatley, Ontario.
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma on Butterfly Bush. September 26, 2012 Wheatley, Ontario.

Similar Species: Question Mark P. interrogationis is larger and also has a series of three large dots across mid front wing, plus another smaller dot at outer end. Underside has silver comma with a dot at the end – a sideways question mark.
Gray Comma Polygonia grogne is missing a large black spot about mid-way on outer edge of hind wing. Sometimes hidden if wing aren’t fully spread out.

Eastern Comma Polygonia comma, summer form. August 05, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma, summer form. August 05, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

Habitat: Deciduous forests, prefers being close to water, creeks and swamps.

Food: Adults feed on tree sap in early spring; also rotting fruit like watermelon. Frequently at flowers: Butterfly Bush, New England Aster, Stonecrop Sedum, especially Tall Boneset.
Larva feed on Nettles Urtica, Hop Vine Humulus (exotic), False Nettle Boehmeria cylindrica, Wood Nettle Laportea canadensis, also Elm trees.

Flight Times: March to November, depending on weather.

Life Cycle:
Females lay eggs in April and May. Eggs pale green, laid singly or stacked 9 deep on underside of leaves and stems. Caterpillars feed at night and hide during the day in leaf shelters and become the summer form adults, with dark hind wings. They lay eggs in June/July, and the new adults are the longest-lived butterflies in south-western Ontario, hibernating over the winter.

Comments: Abundant in Essex County, extending north to Lake Superior.

Aglais (Nymphalis) milberti

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Aglais (Nymphalis) milberti

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Aglais (Nymphalis) milberti. September 26, 2013 at Stratford, Ontario, unknown shrub.
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Aglais (Nymphalis) milberti. September 26, 2013 at Stratford, Ontario, unknown shrub.

Very rare in south-western Ontario, with a few recorded at Point Pelee, intermittently throughout the years, but it is a permanent resident in central and northern Ontario. They prefer wet areas and marshes. Caterpillars feed on nettles Urtica.

 

 

 

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Aglais (Nymphalis) milberti. September 26, 2013 at Stratford, Ontario, unknown shrub.
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Aglais (Nymphalis) milberti. September 26, 2013 at Stratford, Ontario, unknown shrub.

While in Stratford waiting to see a play, this one was found in the Shakespeare Garden on an exotic unknown shrub, too high to get a photo of the top side.

Adults prefer sap and rotting fruit, and occasionally nectar from flowers. Females lay a massive number of eggs on the underside of nettle leaves, and like the Mourning Cloak, the caterpillars all stay together when young. They can have up to 3 generations a year. Adults hibernate during the winter.

Nymphalis antiopa

Mourning Cloak
Nymphalis antiopa

Long-lived, with a life span of about 10 months, Mourning Cloaks are the first to appear in the spring after hibernating all winter.

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa laying eggs on underside of willow leaf. Robinson Island, near Killarney, Ontario, July 02, 2003.
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa laying eggs on underside of willow leaf. Robinson Island, near Killarney, Ontario, July 02, 2003.

Females lay eggs from early May to early July in the north using a variety of trees like elm, hackberry, poplar, birch farther north, but the females prefer willow. Eggs are yellow, and turn black before hatching.

 

 

 

 

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa larva on willow. July 08, 2007. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa larva on willow. July 08, 2007. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Larvae are called the Spiny Elm caterpillar. When young, they usually stick together, all on the same leaf.

 

 

 

 

 

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa, newly hatched. June 13, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa, newly hatched. June 13, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.

New batches of adult Mourning Cloaks appear about mid-June in southern Ontario, later up north. They will feed on flower nectar of milkweed, dogbane, boneset, butterfly bush and even boxwood flowers, but they prefer tree sap and rotting fruit.

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa on watermelon, with friends. Sept 11, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa on watermelon, with friends. Sept 11, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.

Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Red-spotted Purple
Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax with red spots on edge of front wings. Fresh hatch of partial 3rd generation. On Tall Boneset, September 02, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax with red spots on edge of front wings. Fresh hatch of partial 3rd generation. On Tall Boneset, September 02, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

Red-spotted Purple flies in south-western Ontario from Mid-June to the first week of September, with 2 generations, and sometimes a partial 3rd generation. Slightly varied, some have red spots along the front wing edge, but these spots can fade.

 

 

 

Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax on Queen Anne's Lace. July 29, 2010, Wheatley, Ontario. Pointed hind wings and red spot at anal angle of hind wings. Similar to L. a. proserpina.
Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax on Queen Anne’s Lace. July 29, 2010, Wheatley, Ontario. Pointed hind wings and red spot at anal angle of hind wings. Similar to L. a. proserpina.

Some have slightly pointed hind wings, with or without a red spot on inner edge of the hind wings (anal angle), and closely resemble sub-species proserpina from s. w. U.S. Genetic studies have proved the two are sister species, but neither is that closely related to the White Admiral.

 

 

 

White Admiral Limenits arthems puddling. Although they fly in central Ontario, this one is from Chase, British Columbia June 26, 2010.
White Admiral Limenits arthems puddling. Although they fly in central Ontario, this one is from Chase, British Columbia June 26, 2010.

Apparently southern Ontario is a hybridization zone for interbreeding between the Red-spotted Purple and the White Admiral Limenitis arthemis, but the White Admiral doesn’t fly south of the London/ Hamilton corridor. Other hybrid zones are in New England, and Kentucky/Tennessee.

 

 

Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax lacking red spots. On Nannyberry (Viburnum) July 28, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax lacking red spots. On Nannyberry (Viburnum) July 28, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

Red-spotted Purple are also supposed to be mimics of the Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor, but other than occasional migrating strays at Point Pelee and a few strays near Toronto, it doesn’t fly here either. Recent research is beginning to question the Batesian mimicry.

 

 

Typical Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax enjoying watermelon. July 27, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Typical Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax enjoying watermelon. July 27, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.

Red-spotted Purple feed on a great variety of flowers, contrary to some reports: Butterfly Bush, Hoptree, Virgin’s Bower, Queen Anne’s Lace, Boneset, Sweet William and Blazing Star. Like the Viceroy, they also enjoy rotting fruit like apples and watermelon. Caterpillars are almost identical to the Viceroy Limenitis archippus and feed on cherry, hawthorn, apple, serviceberry, beech and farther north also on birch.

Limenitis archippus l

Viceroy – Caterpillar
Limenitis archippus

Viceroy Caterpillar Limenitis archippus winter home (hibernacula). Last year's leaf firmly silked to peach-leaf willow. April 23, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.
Viceroy Caterpillar Limenitis archippus winter home (hibernacula). Last year’s leaf firmly silked to peach-leaf willow. April 23, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.

When the last brood of caterpillars are half-grown (3rd instar) in the fall, they start silking the sides of a leaf together to form a tube (hibernacula), then they weave silk where the leaf stem is attached to the branch, so their new home won’t fall off the tree. They hibernate tucked in their leaf tube all winter. On Willow, they emerge from hibernation when the catkins (flowers) appear.

 

Mature Viceroy caterpillar Limenitis archippus patiently waiting for rain. Peach-leaf willow. August 25, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
Mature Viceroy caterpillar Limenitis archippus patiently waiting for rain. Peach-leaf willow. August 25, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

Caterpillars feed on mostly willow and poplar leaves. On willow, they strip the leaf, leaving only the main rib. They have an unusual habit of attaching frass and bits of the leaf at the tip of the stripped leaf with silk. It’s not just the adults that like moisture. This mature caterpillar is patiently waiting for rain so it can form a chrysalis. Several mature larvae were on a peach-leaf willow, not eating, just laying around waiting for rain.

Mature Viceroy caterpillar Limenitis archippus, after waiting 2 days for rain, immediately silked a foot-hold after a shower, ready to form chrysalis. Peach-leaf willow, August 27, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.
Mature Viceroy caterpillar Limenitis archippus, after waiting 2 days for rain, immediately silked a foot-hold after a shower, ready to form chrysalis. Peach-leaf willow, August 27, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.

Two days later, at noon, with just a brief shower, this caterpillar, still wet, immediately spun a foot-hold on a Peach-leaf Willow twig and started to form its chrysalis. A second one decided to spin a foot-hold directly on the underside of its leaf. It was a very brief shower, but wet enough to signal them to start the change.

 

 

Viceroy Limenitis archippus chrysalis almost formed within 2 hours after a shower. Peach-leaf Willow, August 27, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.
Viceroy Limenitis archippus chrysalis almost formed within 2 hours after a shower. Peach-leaf Willow, August 27, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.

Chrysalis almost done by 1:45pm.

 

Limenitis archippus

Viceroy – Adults
Limenitis archippus

Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus on Culver's Root. July 24, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus on Culver’s Root. July 24, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.

Adults start appearing in mid-June and have 3 generations by mid-September, flying as late as mid-October if the weather holds. Adults look just like the Monarch’s except for a black line across the middle of their hind wings.

 

Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus on Tall Boneset, September 08, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus on Tall Boneset, September 08, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

 

Viceroy isn’t picky about the flowers they visit for nectar. They feed on Dogbane, Dogwood, Butterfly Bush, Queen Anne’s Lace, Purple Coneflower, Boneset, Culver’s root, Virgin’s Bower, Joe-Pye Weed and Stonecrop (Sedum).

 

 

Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus feeding on split tomato August 30, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus feeding on split tomato August 30, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

In August if there’s a lot of rain, tomatoes suck up so much moisture their skins split. Viceroys rush in to help, sucking up all that liquid before the tomato heals over and scars. They have a fondness for other over-ripe fruits like cherries and plums and wind-fall apples.

 

Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus sharing watermelon with Red-spotted Purple (right) and a 'few' flies. August 08, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus sharing watermelon with Red-spotted Purple (right) and a ‘few’ flies. August 08, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.

 

Their favorite liquid is watermelon and they return repeated throughout the day to imbibe the juice. Unfortunately, when pesky flies find the melon, they never leave.