Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Black Swallowtail of Spring Hatched

It's the first day of spring (03/20/2013) and appropriately enough the first of the Black Swallowtails has emerged from their chrysalis. The generation that over-winters tends to be smaller than usual, I suspect because more of the energy goes towards sustaining the adult through the winter. This one is a good inch or two smaller than they are typically over the summer, even for a male.

Black Swallowtail - Winter/Spring
Black Swallowtail - Summer

Now, once again we've relied on the weather forecasts of a clearly defective groundhog and it's abilities to predict when spring will happen. (I'm sure the groundhogs of Hawaii and Alaska aren't half as bad as Punxsutawney Phil, whose track record is worse than flipping a coin.)

Needless to say it's still cold here and I'm keeping them inside. I'm told they can be sustained for about 6 weeks indoors when fed sugar water. My friend tells me she hears anywhere from 1:3 to 1:10 ratio sugar to water.... which isn't helpful so I'm trying 1:4 and will be providing them a source of salt in a day or so.

I haven't decided how yet. Everything I read tends to be writing about an open feeding yard setting. But how much does one butterfly need and is it safe to feed them raw salt? I guess I'll have to find out.

I have parsley growing now but perhaps most interesting of all is that they occasionally use Citrus as a host plant... and I just bought a Mayar Lemon and Key Lime tree in the basement. The parsley in the garden had green growth all winter, and the Golden Alexander has pushed out several inches of growth since January ended. So even with all the cold, I have plenty of options.