After locating rue (Ruta graveolens) at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, we were able to find eastern giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) larvae.
After our first trip to the Cornell Botanic Garden yesterday, we realized that many butterflies such as Papilio cresphontes and troilus are common and still in flight here. Thus, on our visit today, we tried to locate some of their hosts in order for to attempt getting eggs out of the females we caught yesterday, and also to find any larvae or eggs that might be on them.
At first, we spent a long time trying to find troilus hosts, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum), but we simply couldn't (makes us wonder why the butterfly was even here??). We later asked one of the workers there who told us there wasn't spicebush in this section of the garden, but there was some in the arboretum, but that was far from here and a storm was due in half an hour.
We then quickly moved on to searching hosts of the Rutaceaea feeding cresphontes. We knew there was some lemon trees (Citrus limon) there, but they were small and not very good, so there wasn't much hope of finding eggs or larvae on it. Instead, we tried looking for hop (Ptelea trifoliata), prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), or rue (Ruta graveolens). Based on the Botanic Garden plant database, there was no prickly ash and the few hop trees they were supposed to have were apparently in a different section quite far from where we were looking. We thus forgot about the hop and prickly ash and tried to find some rue, which they supposedly had three patches of in the herb section.
After searching for probably much longer than we should've (half an hour at least?), we located two of the three patches, which in retrospect were actually just in plain sight. We quickly scanned the first patch, but surprisingly found no eggs or larvae, despite that the butterflies (both sexes) were always flying around the garden (while we were searching, we actually caught a male cresphontes drinking nectar, though we have little use of him). When we got to the second patch, we were delighted to see that there was a second instar sitting right in front of us on the upper side of a leaf. We eagerly searched the pants for more, but all we could find was a dead second instar on a leaf (no idea what the case of mortality was). The single live larva was good enough for us though - we had never seen the larvae of this or related Heraclides group species in real life until now. The larva is a perfect dropping mimic (much more convincing than other Papilio larvae we have seen), being shiny with blotches of white on the dorsum of the abdomen and rear. The thorax is also extremely enlarged and shaped like a snake head. We collected the larva in a dish and started heading back as the storm was beginning.
While looking for the cresphontes and troilus hosts, we spotted a bunch of the common stuff again, like melanoplus and band-winged grasshoppers, monarchs, skippers, red-spotted purples, etc. There were also a terrifying amount of Heminoptera and Diptera here compared to at home, with probably hundreds (thousands?) swarming the flower bushes in the garden.
We also took a few shots of the garden right before we left if you were wondering how it looked.
Ithaca, New York
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations and experiences with various insects (primarily Lepidoptera) around the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, starting from the time we moved here in 2017. As this is a personal blog, we try to keep collections/rearings for university research and course work to a minimum, and mainly focus on just the species we catch and raise for our own fun and interest. Posts prior to this time can be viewed at Timeline 2012-2017: Albany, California, though there is occasionally some crossover when we have returned home during breaks or reared stock derived from home (see Albany, California Updates).
July 2020 (1)
August 2019 (2)
July 2019 (35)
June 2019 (46)
May 2019 (20)
March 2019 (1)
January 2019 (1)
September 2018 (1)*
August 2018 (9)*
July 2018 (11)*
June 2018 (22*)
May 2018 (18)*
April 2018 (2)*
January 2018 (6)
December 2017 (5)
November 2017 (1)
October 2017 (5)
September 2017 (26)
August 2017 (19)
*Currently, a significant portion of 2018 posts are missing. The notes/photos for this time period are saved on our personal files but the posts were never built due to a busy schedule that year. We are still actively building these posts when we have the time.
Full Species List
(Alphabetical by scientific name)
- Not every species we encounter is necessarily presented on this site, rather a selection of those that were of particular interest to us and that we felt were worth documenting.
- We can't guarantee that all species have been identified accurately, particularly taxa we are not as familiar with.
Battus philenor hirsuta
Liminitis arthemis arthemis
Limenitis arthemis astyanax
Papilio polyxenes asterius
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Albany, California Updates