Thursday, May 9, 2019

Caterpillar Care

Great Spangled Fritillary - MDC Discover Nature
There is a lot of work that goes into the Bill Roston Butterfly House even before the season opens.  Chris and Deb Barnhart are busy raising native butterflies from the eggs on.  They have approximately 1,000 including Great Spangled Fritillaries and four swallowtail species.  I asked them to describe the process for us.

Chris and Deb:
Do you remember the I Love Lucy episode where she is working at a conveyor with chocolates?  Well, raising 500 + Great Spangled Fritillary (GSF) butterfly caterpillars is a lot like that episode.

We set up new boxes with violets and transfer the caterpillars from the soiled box. We repeat this about 59 times a day. Interspersed with washing boxes and lids-drying them. Taking leaf scraps, frass and used tissues and coffee filters to the trash. A trash bag is walked to the garbage bin a few times each day. All of this is interspersed with trips into the woods for more violets! Be sure to see this 20 second video clip that says it all.

Meanwhile, Charley Burwick shared this picture below of his biggest GSF from a recent birding trip.  He insists he didn't Photoshop it.  I can't argue with a Conservationist of the Year.

The Bill Roston Butterfly House at the Springfield Botanical Gardens opens for the year on Saturday, May 18th at 9AM.  In addition you can visit the Native Plant Market which includes education booths and programs.  For details, click here.