Monday, May 10, 2010

Butterfly Breeding

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I've been planting my garden with the needs of native animals in mind. I'm particularly interested in helping out the animals that depend on a single food source. So, I'm attempting to grow a variety of milkweeds, for the Monarch butterflies. (I'm fighting the slugs, who seem to love these plants.)

I'm also growing Dutchman's Pipe, which is the only plant that the larval Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly eats. Conveniently, the female butterfly also lays her eggs on this plant.




The weekend before last, Robb and I went on the Bringing Back the Natives garden tour, where we visited the garden of Idell Weydemeyer. I addition to incredible orchards, Idell grows a huge variety of California native plants. She had a friendly, informative volunteer stationed at the site of her impressive Dutchman's Pipe Vine, talking about the life cycle of these beautiful butterflies.

The butterflies were in attendance as well. The volunteer pointed out some eggs that had just been laid (top photo) and while I attempting to take photos of the swift, flitting butterflies, one settled down, and started laying eggs.

I have had my Dutchman's Pipe in pots for about six months, because I can't decide where to place them. I wonder if I might be able to adopt a caterpillar or three from someone who grows this plant. I'm doubtful that the butterflies will find my garden, all by themselves.

We have man butterflies in our urban garden, and it would be lovely to see some of these beauties.

6 comments:

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Fabulous photos Lisa. I almost bought a Dutchman's Pipe vine a couple of weeks ago, but I held off until I had a better idea of where to put it. I would love to add one to the garden though, perhaps on a trellis on the shed (when it's built). I hope the butterflies find yours soon. I'm sorry the slugs are chomping your milkweeds, it's amazing how voracious their appetites are!

John W. Wall said...

That's really great to plant with native species in mind. I try to talk my wife into that as much as possible. The shot of the butterfly laying the eggs is excellent too. I see lots of pipevine swallowtails in an area where I've yet to see a single pipevine. Meanwhile, I know of some pipevine in Golden Gate Park, but I've never seen the swallowtails there. Puzzling!

Martha said...

That was really accommodating of the butterfly to lay eggs just for you! So amazing.

sharp green pencil said...

I had to laugh Lisa because I was astonished when I first saw the pipevines here. They are some of the most bizarre flowers I have ever seen. There are several varieties at Leu gardens here.. aristolochia fimbriata is a neat little one that the pipevine butterflies like. I did quite a few post on these curious plants on the blog..they have some rather grim medical connections!..

Marcia said...

Love your photography Lisa, you have some beautiful native flora and fauna.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

I love that picture.

Re pipevine swallowtails, I've heard that native ginger (Asarum canadense) is also a larval food.

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