Small Butterflies are Delightful!

We tend to notice what is bright and colorful but many of our beautiful butterflies are tiny.

Gray Hairstreak

Gray Hairstreak

Ceraunus Blue Butterfly

Ceraunus Blue Butterfly

Phaon Crescent Butterfly

Phaon Crescent Butterfly

Great Purple Hairstreak

Great Purple Hairstreak

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

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‘Monarch Promise’ Milkweed

We’re delighted that ‘Monarch Promise’ was released this spring. Every time we see it, we are struck all over again with its beauty.

Monarch Promise Milkweed

Monarch Promise Milkweed

Supplies are limited, we discovered. The wholesale nursery that has the rights to sell wholesale to other nurseries is sold out. If you see any, buy them before it is too late!

Because the plant is patented, it can only be propagated by one nursery (besides ourselves). This means that more won’t be available until this fall.

Monarch Promise Milkweed

Monarch Promise Milkweed

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Butterfly Farming (Butterfly Breeding) The How-to Seminar

Are you considering starting your own butterfly farm? We offer one to three day seminars, teaching all aspects of the business.

Butterfly chrysalises pupae at Shady Oak Butterfly Farm

Butterfly chrysalises at
Shady Oak Butterfly Farm

Guests from 13 different countries have attended our seminars or internships, learning the in’s and out’s of butterfly breeding.

A butterfly farm can range in size from one room to a larger farm, such as Shady Oak Butterfly Farm (in the photo below).

Learn more about the program by clicking on this sentence.

Shady Oak Butterfly Farm

Shady Oak Butterfly Farm

Check out the seminar details at the link above. Learn what topics are covered, price, and more by reading the linked page. You can contact us with questions or to schedule a butterfly farming seminar at edith@buyabutterfly.com.

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Why can’t we remove OE from nature once and for all?

Why can’t we remove OE from nature once and for all? Ophryocystis elektroscirrha is here to stay?

OE spores Monarch butterfly Ophryocystis elektroscirrha

OE spores Monarch butterfly
Ophryocystis elektroscirrha

There are several reasons:
1) it is estimated that at least 1/3 of Monarchs in the US have OE to one degree or another
2) all Monarchs in the Miami/Dade area are considered infected with OE
3) most likely nearly all Monarchs in Mexico are infected with OE
4) the parasite is found in many countries and several continents and islands
5) Queens in the US and Mexico (at least) are infected with OE
6) OE will transmit from one species to another
7) OE has been found in 3 Danaus species and suspected to be in more
8) Millions of Monarchs from the Eastern US, Eastern Canada, and some from the Western US migrate to Mexico, intermingling with each other during winter months. Many are OE infected. When they begin to mate in the spring, one without OE will often mate with one with OE. This will transfer spores to the outside of the uninfected butterfly where they can be transferred to milkweed leaves, another Monarch, and milkweed leaves. (Cross-transfer causes few problems compared to direct infection.)

Learn more by clicking on this sentence.

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Neonicotinoid tags – thank the nursery!

You step into the nursery and then you see it – the dreaded neonicotinoid tag! Stop. Take another look. The WONDERFUL neonicotinoid tag!

Neonicotinoid label

Neonicotinoid label?
Thank the nursery!

After all, the nursery didn’t have to tell you the plant was treated. They would sell more plants if they didn’t carry the label.

The label is worded so nicely because the wholesale nursery made the tag. It wasn’t the wholesale nursery’s idea. They don’t want to tag the plants. The retail nursery required it. If enough of us become angry, tell the nursery how terrible they are, and then walk out of the store, they may quit carrying the tags. Think about it. Before they carried the tags, they sold the same plants treated in the same way.

What is the difference? Now they are warning you, their customer. That is a good thing. Do we want them to go back to not labeling?

So the next time you see the tag, thank the nursery and purchase a plant without a tag. Let them know that you will still spend money at their store and you appreciate the labeling.

At least some of the stores that require labeling are working with wholesale growers and have made a commitment to carry only non-neonicotinoid treated plants within a certain number of years. Learn more about neonicotinoid labeling by clicking on this sentence.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Black Swallowtail Butterfly Chrysalises

Can you tell which is which? If you find these two chrysalises, or just one of them, will you know what species of butterfly you found?

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Black Swallowtail butterfly chrysalises

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail
Butterfly Chrysalises

The good news is that it really doesn’t matter. Either leave it where you found it or take it home and care for it and allow it to emerge and release it. You’ll find out what it is when it emerges.

For some of us, we aren’t that patient. We want to know NOW.

In this case, the chrysalis on the left is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the chrysalis on the right is a Black Swallowtail. But be aware; there are other species that become chrysalises that are similar in appearance.

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly

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Winter and Butterflies

It’s winter here in the northern hemisphere and butterflies are scarce. Here at our farm, the low tomorrow is predicted to be 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Where are butterflies when it is so cold?

Tiger Swallowtail butterflies stay in chrysalis all winter until new leaves grow on their host trees

Tiger Swallowtail butterflies stay a
Chrysalis all winter until new leaves
Grow on their host trees

We understand that Monarch butterflies from the eastern US and eastern Canada migrate to Mexico in the fall and Monarchs west of the Continental Divide migrate to the coast of California and to Mexico for the winter. What about other species?

Tawny Emperor butterfly caterpillars in winter hibernacula

Tawny Emperor butterfly caterpillars
In their winter hibernacula
Host tree leaf sewn shut
Caterpillars hiding inside

They spend the winter in various ways, according to species. Some migrate south and continue their normal life cycle in warmer climates, their offspring migrating north in the spring. Others spend the winter as an egg, a caterpillar, a chrysalis, or an adult butterfly all winter. Some eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises stay buried in the snow for months!

You can learn more by clicking on this sentence to visit our ‘Where Do Butterflies Go In The Winter?’ web page.

Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico

Monarch butterflies overwintering
Mexico overwintering location
Photo by Bill Berthet

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Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat butternut squash

Did you run out of milkweed? Are your caterpillars starving? You don’t know what to do?

Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat butternut squash

Monarch butterfly caterpillars
Eat butternut squash

Yes, Monarch caterpillars will eat a few fresh raw vegetables like butternut squash. Want to learn more? Check it out HERE!

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Should I separate chrysalises when they pupate on each other?

Too often swallowtail chrysalises pupate on each other. Every now and then other species will do the same thing.

A Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis sewn shut when another caterpillar pupated on it

A Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis was sewn shut when another caterpillar pupated on it

Separating Swallowtail butterfly chrysalises

Separating Swallowtail butterfly chrysalises

We are often asked if they should be separated. If so, how can they be separated safely? Those are great questions.

Some people don’t separate them and have had both butterflies emerge fine. Others don’t separate them and the first one dies, never able to emerge. Why?

Others try to separate them but end up killing one of them. What did they do wrong?

Today we tackled these questions and here are your answers ….. all in one page! Should I separate and how to separate butterfly chrysalises.

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Maybe your Monarch made it but its tag didn’t …

Many tags fall off Monarch butterflies before they reach their overwintering sites. If the tags aren’t applied correctly, they will fall off before the butterfly reaches its destination.

Tagging a Monarch butterfly for migration studies

Tagging a Monarch butterfly
for migration studies

Monarch Watch butterfly tags

Monarch Watch butterfly tags
For migration research

Migration study tag fell off this Monarch butterfly

Monarch Watch tag
fell off this Monarch butterfly

Although we’re through tagging for the year, please take a minute to bookmark this linked page for next season.

1. If someone uses a finger instead of another object to handle the tag, the oils from the finger could cause the glue to become ineffective.
2. If someone fails to hold the tag firmly onto the wing for a few seconds, the glue won’t go through the scales to hold the tag firmly to the wing itself. It will come off with the scales as the butterfly flies.
3. If the record sheet isn’t filled out and returned to Monarch Watch or whichever research group issued the tags, it doesn’t matter if the tags make it and are recovered. The information isn’t recorded to identify where the butterfly was tagged.

Learn more about tagging by visiting this linked page.

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