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Our guest writer this week, Hannelore Jenner, is a naturalist in Columbia, South Carolina who loves butterflies. She has spent years studying and raising them by using her garden as the laboratory. She raises many from the egg to emergence and releases all of her beauties back into her garden, where flowers full of nectar and food for caterpillars await. This week, Hannelore shows us just how difficult it is to spot Gulf fritillary eggs in the garden. Anne K Moore.


Hannelore Jenner
Photograph Jenner

The Monarch butterflies were on their migrating route early this September and stopped over in my yard. I collected seven caterpillars. This is the first year I was able to rear my monarch caterpillars without outside food. The last little guy left Friday.

A beautiful female met me at the door when I returned from the gym. The chrysalis was in the living room to protect it from the Carolina wren. I separated the caterpillar from the others to take a new series of photos. I have all except the adult. She was ready to go and in no mood to stop for pictures.

There are Gulf fritillaries checking out the Passiflora caerulea in the butterfly garden. I located some eggs and decided to wait to snip the foliage after pictures on Saturday. Big mistake. We had heavy downpours in the evening and throughout the night. Some of the eggs were already very dark and ready to hatch. The little caterpillars would not have had a chance since they sat in the middle of a raindrop.

I soaked up the water with small pieces of tissue. All the little ones I could find are safe in my incubator. The picture, here, is with the egg in the raindrop. Look closely inside the raindrop with the double quotes. When scouting in your garden, look for the eggs, which start out yellow and barrel shaped and mature to dark specks. The larva is very shiny with black stripes. Unless you know how to feed the caterpillars, leave them in the garden to observe as they grow.   



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