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The Good Caterpiller - the butterfly caterpillar

 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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Before you get upset that a caterpillar is eating your dill plant you might want to find out who he is.  Some caterpillars turn into moths, while others turn into butterflies. Some caterpillars are pests while others are future butterflies. How can a gardeners determine one caterpillar from another? How can we have munching from butterfly babies while ridding our gardens of uninvited pests?  Gardeners interested in attracting butterflies to the garden must know how to identify their larvae, or else risk losing the next generation of butterflies.  This will help IDENTIFY BUTTERFLIES and their larvae.

identify-butterflies.

This is a Gallery of Butterflies

Here you put in your location to find butterflies in your area so you can identify their caterpillars.  www.butterfliesandmoths.org/checklistshttp://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/gallery

And this helps to identify CATERPILLARS

A butterfly will lay her eggs on host plants. Once the egg hatches, the larva emerges and feeds on its host plant. Larvae go through a series of molts (shedding of “skin”) until they reach a certain size. They then stop feeding and search for a place to pupate, later to emerge from their pupal cases as winged adults.
If you’re interested in identifying your particular caterpillar pest, the best place to start is by knowing the host plant.  What I have done is to identify all the butterflies I have seen in my garden then looked up that particular one and noted its host plants and which ones I have growing in my garden.  Then I use one of the guides that I listed to find out what the caterpillar will look like.

Guide to some caterpillars

When you find a caterpillar, pay attention to which plant the caterpillar is eating. Each species can feed only upon a limited number of plants, so knowing the host plant is a big clue.
Caterpillars are very sensitive to any kind of chemical on the plants that they eat.  It is very important to not use any pesticides or other types of poison in your butterfly garden.  Maybe having a Butterfly Garden with Host Plants and Nectuar Plants will help save you Vegetable Garden from the Larvae.
The least toxic way to get rid of unwanted caterpillars is to handpick them. Wear gloves, not just for the “ick” factor, but to prevent stings or rashes. Drop the pests into a bucket of soapy water as you pluck.
I hope this information has helped you to save your pollinators.

"Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world's flowering plants. Without them, humans and wildlife wouldn't have much to eat or look at! Animals that assist plants in their reproduction as pollinators include species of ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, as well as other unusual animals. Wind and water also play a role in the pollination of many plants."  Pollinators

Here are a dew Host Plants and which Butterflies/Larvae use them:

Dill, Fennel, Parsley

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Passion Flowers (Passiflora spp.)

Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)

The first photo is a Pipevine Butterfly. The second is a beautiful Hummingbird Spinx Moth and the third is the Spinx larvae which is the Tomato Hornworm








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Pipevine Butterfly
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Hummingbird Spinx Moth
Hornworm.jpg
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Tomato Hornworm
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Great information.  Thank you.

The Pollinator Partnership has put out a series of free PDF downloads for each of the US regions.  Each is full of valuable information.

Fill in your ZIP code into the box, and it will direct you to the guide for your region.
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Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The Devil's Claw plant, Proboscidea species, native to the south and western parts of North America, is the only non-tomato relative on which Sphinx Moth larvae will feed.  It is a large, beautiful plant and I grow it specifically for the Sphinx Moths.  If I find a tomato worm on my tomatoes, I just move her over to the Devil's Claw.

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Anne Miller
pollinator
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Posts: 346
Location: USDA Zone 8a
20
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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John, thnks for the link to the pollinators.  I didn't know there were so many bees!

Tyler Ludens wrote:The Devil's Claw plant, Proboscidea species, native to the south and western parts of North America, is the only non-tomato relative on which Sphinx Moth larvae will feed.  It is a large, beautiful plant and I grow it specifically for the Sphinx Moths.  If I find a tomato worm on my tomatoes, I just move her over to the Devil's Claw.


Thanks for this information, I will put them on the list for my new medicinal garden I am planning.  This year was the first year we have ever had tomato hornworms.  But I didn't get to see any of the Spinx.  Its been 8 or 9 years since I saw one but they are amazing.

I have a book written in the 1820's where these are mentioned as pickles.  She calls them "Martinoes".  When I researched what martinoes were, I found the information at Mother Earth News and they are used in Cajun cooking.

We have 100's of butterflies.  Since the Monarch have passed through our area we now have Queens that are covering up the milkweed.  Queens are smaller but look similar to the Monarchs when their wings are closed.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Yes, the young pods are edible with a texture similar to okra but can be somewhat bitter.  I put them in curry, the dish in which I hide all potentially nasty vegetables.  The mature seeds are also edible like sunflower seeds but are difficult to get from the pods.  The mature pods can be dangerous around animals because of the sharp hooks.  I stupidly put some immature pods into the chicken run thinking the chickens might eat them, but the pods matured and later I found two stuck on a couple of chickens, one pod so hidden under the feathers that it could have been on the poor hen for days without me knowing.  Supposedly these large hooked pods evolved during the epochs in which megafauna roamed North America.  http://www.mrt.com/news/article/Behold-the-Devil-s-Claw-a-Pleistocene-anachronism-7501485.php

 
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