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Happenings in the insect world
Comments:
by Jim Gonsman
on October 4, 2012 at 8:06 AM
Thank you.
by Rico M.
on October 8, 2012 at 1:44 PM
First time ever seeing Gulf Frits in my North Stockton, Ca garden a few days ago. 3 adults were all over the Passion Vines (P. incarnata) I had planted over 7 years ago. There must be hundreds of eggs deposited in just a few days time. It's very exciting & I love this most rare vistor to our garden ;)
Reply by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on October 8, 2012 at 2:33 PM
Nice! Glad to hear you have these little visitors!
by Elisa V
on September 11, 2013 at 1:41 PM
I have at least 20 caterpillars of this butterfly on my Passion flower vine on my back yard right now!, I live in Roseville, California, I'm just amaze to see the orange butterflies dancing on my back yard! I'm loving it!
by Anne E. Schellman
on September 20, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Hi Kathy I love your blog! I was very excited to have been gifted a "found" dead Gulf Frit for my bug collection by Ellen Z.
by Kirsten
on October 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM
I am so glad to know what has been bringing smiles in our backyard! We live in Rancho Cordova and have had passion flower vines for the past 7 years and have spotted one or two butterflies a year in the yard. In the past two weeks we suddenly have dozens and dozens of chrysalis' ! I thought they were viceroy but that just wasn't matching the description.  
I'm not sure what their odds of survival are but I have picked up about 15 off the ground who were never able to fly. I tried giving them some sugar water on a q-tip and about 4 regained strength and were able to fly away but the others have died.  
Do you have any tips on helping our friends? What is their expected life time as a butterfly?  
Thanks.
by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on October 28, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Hi, Kirsten. Thank you for your email. We consulted butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, UC Davis, for his response: "First off, Viceroys aren't found anywhere in CA except down in the extreme SE corner, in desert-wash riparian habitat.  
Second, it's highly abnormal that any significant proportion of Gulf Frits would be unable to fly. If the pupae are not disturbed they hang vertically. The butterfly pops out and hangs on the bottom of the cast pupal skin, letting gravity pull down the wings so they elongate fully. If the bug is knocked down while the wings are soft and cannot immediately climb up a vertical surface, it will end up a cripple. The pupae should never be removed from their substrate and laid horizontally in a container. That virtually guarantees crippling. If there was no disturbance and all those animals fell down spontaneously, they are infected with some microorganism that has significantly weakened them. Any butterfly that is unable to fly is a lost cause and there is really no reason to try to save them since they won't reproduce. If a crippled female was mated by a flying male, which is possible, she wouldn't be able to lay her normal complement of eggs on the host plant anyway...  
Adult Gulf Frits, which are pretty unpalatable to predators (they have chemical defenses), are quite long-lived. In warm weather they can live 4-6 weeks. In cold weather they can live 2-3 months, but are killed outright at 21-22F.  
For the record, butterflies have sugar receptors on their feet. When the feet contact sugar, the proboscis uncoils automatically for feeding. If it's necessary to feed a butterfly, place watered-down honey--not much--or Pepsi or Coke right out of the container--on a fairly non-absorbent surface (I use a strip of foam rubber) and, using forceps to hold the wings over the back, lower the feet to the liquid. Bingo! Allow to feed ad lib."
 
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