Rearing notes for western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) pupae. Stock originated as eggs laid by a captive female, originally found as an egg in Albany, California and hand-paired to a male captured also in Albany, California, on July 7.
Rearing notes 8/9/17-8/16/17:
Because we will be moving to Ithaca, New York tonight, we had no choice but to collect all the cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) cocoons despite that not all larvae have spun.
We never thought a cecropia brood started all the way back in April would still not be finished now in mid August. We normally would have collected all the cocoons once all larvae had finished spinning, but since we will be moving tonight, we had to collect all the finished ones and resleeve up the remaining few larvae with as many leaves as possible.
The cocoons this year are far smaller than the ones last year, despite having received nearly identical treatment (indoors on apple first three instars, and sleeved outside in the last two). The only difference was that some of the larvae this year were sleeved since birth. The larvae this year also grew much, much slower than last year's which all finished spinning at the beginning of August and began in June. We can't really understand why this year's rearing was so poor. We started off with hundreds this year and nearly all died off overtime, mostly the ones that were sleeved since birth. Last year we started with three dozen and got about the same amount through and they were respectable in size, with females at 8 g and males at 6 g. This year, the cocoons are a measly 3-6 g. We didn't imagine cecropias could even get down to 3 g without opting for a supernumerary sixth. Maybe inbreeding reduced their size?
Rearing notes for regal moth (Citheronia regalis) prepupae. Stock originated from Ohio, July 2017.
Rearing notes 8/12/17-8/16/17:
Our final non-diapausing ♀ polyxenes asterius × ♂ zelicaon hybrid pupa eclosed into a crippled male. Fortunately, the important wing and body patterns are visible enough to compare to parent species, P. polyxenes asterius and P. zelicaon.
The hybrid eclosed today, and weak and small as it is, it could not expand its wins fully just like the first one. However, this one managed to expand enough for us to clearly see the wing patterns, unlike the first who's wings were completely crumpled. Below are sided by side live comparisons between the hybrid and the parent species, P. polyxenes asterius and P. zelicaon; all individuals are males. Though intermediate between the parent species and many traits, the hybrid superficially resembles polyxenes more due to the black (rather than yellow) ground color. However, all the yellow regions on the hybrid are darker than in polyxenes more closely match the shade in zelicaon.
Now let's get into the details, starting with the wings.
The dorsal forewing of the hybrid is primarily black like polyxenes, though it is not quite as dark and is slightly brownish. The band of yellow spots in the middle is more or less consistent in width, unlike in polyxenes which typically tapers going upwards or like in zelicaon which is thick on both ends and narrower in the center. Also, The marginal yellow spots are somewhat intermediate of the parents, being more rectangular than polyxenes' but rounder than zelicaon's.
The dorsal hindwings of the hybrid are similarly intermediate between the parent species as the forewings are. They are primarily black, but the band of yellow spots is larger than in polyxenes. Also, the marginal yellow spots are larger and more crescent shaped than in the polyxenes of our lineage, more like in zelicaon.
The central hindwing is again more polyxenes like that zelicaon, simply due to the black ground color (though again, slightly brownish rather than pitch black). However, the other traits seem more intermediate, with the band of spots in the middle being orange-yellow, rather than orange in polyxenes or yellow in zelicaon. The marginal yellow spots are longer lengthwise and more rectangular, similar to zelicaon, and not rounded or tear drop like in polyxenes.
The ventral hindwing of the hybrid is perhaps the most interesting of the wings. It is again black in ground color rather than yellow. However, intermediate of the parents, it contains much more blue past the band of orange spots than in polyxenes, and less than in zelicaon. Also, the band of orange spots is lighter and more yellow than in polyxenes, and is more simplistic, lacking the orange spot on the discal cell like in zelicaon.
Now, onto the body
Head & Thorax
Like mentioned in the previous post with the first hybrid, the yellow stripes on the head and thorax of the hybrid are short and small like in polyxenes, unlike the long, connected stripes in zelicaon. However, like other yellow regions of the hybrid's body, the yellow is darker than in polyxenes, and more like the shade in zelicaon.
The hybrid abdomen is very interestingly intermediate between the parents which we briefly described it in the previous post already. On the hybrid, the abdomen very clearly has two rows of rectangular yellow spots laterally. This is intermediate between polyxenes and zelicaon, because in polyxenes, the abdomen has three rows of rounded yellow spots - two lateral and one dorsal, and in zelicaon there are two solid yellow stripes rather than rows of spots. The placement of the top row of yellow spots in the hybrid is also intermediate between the location of the dorsal and top lateral row in polyxenes, and right in the middle of where the larger solid yellow stripe in zelicaon is.
Rearing notes for our eri silkmoth (Samia ricini) larvae. Stock obtained as eggs, March 2017.
Rearing Notes 8/6/17-8/14/17:
Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrids. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing Notes 8/10/17-8/15/17:
Rearing notes for black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes asterius) obtained from a hand-pairing between butterflies that eclosed from pupae originating from Cleveland, Ohio.
Rearing Notes 8/10/17-8/??/17:
Our eri silkmoth (Samia ricini) larvae have all finished spinning cocoons so we collected mass data.
And another brood finished. The last of the larvae finished spinning, so like always, we collected all of them in a tub and weighed them. There are 20 in total, and this time they are quite large compared to previous rearings. This is our fourth rearing of Samia ricini; summary stats are listed below for this brood, as well as two previous broods (the third brood of winter 2016 was never recorded, but was very small). Note that this brood was reared on Liquidambar while the other two were on Prunus, and the fall 2016 brood was of a different lineage.
Summary Statistics for Samia ricini Cocoon Mass:
Mean Std Dev Median Min Max N
Fall 2016 2.221 0.356 2.1 1.6 2.8 14
Spring 2017 1.773 0.337 1.7 1.2 2.5 33
Summer 2017 2.218 0.294 2.19 1.78 2.86 20
The majority of cocoons this time were 2 g or larger which is quite good, and masses were less variable than in previous broods. Of the three broods, both the fall 2016 and summer 2017 broods were significantly larger in mean mass than the spring 2017 brood (p=0.0002 and p<0.0001, respectively), and between those two larger broods, there was no significant difference in mean mass.
Shown above are this brood's cocoons compared to the fall and spring cocoons. The spring are visibly much smaller, and the silk was thinner and and more papery, rather than thick and fluffy. The fall cocoons look about the same size visually as this time's cocoons, but as they were of a different lineage, the shape of the cocoons were flatter and less round.
Most likely the spring rearing produced small cocoons because of much more severe overcrowding in the final instar compared to in the other two and the food quality was not as good. Or, maybe it was the host plant species that made the difference, as this time we used Liquidambar for the first time rather than Prunus. Perhaps Liquidambar was a better host than Prunus, and the reason why the fall brood was on par with the summer brood because that lineage was larger or utilized Prunus more efficiently.
Rearing notes for mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa). Originated from an egg cluster collected on willow (Salix) along the Ohlone Greenway Trail (Berkeley, California), June 29, 2017.
Rearing Notes 8/4/17-8/13/17:
We collected the mass data of our anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) pupae.
Now that most all of our anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) larvae have pupated, we have a lot of pupa mass data. We have a very large sample size that includes larvae of many different lineages, so it should be fairly representative of our region's population when fed on fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), which they almost always use in the wild already. The only concern was our accuracy in sexing the pupae. For some reason, anise pupae are particularly ambiguous compared to other swallowtails we have reared and because the pupae were weighed on the day of pupation, some of them still had not completely gotten into shape which could have made it hard. But even with an 80-90% accuracy, it was still quite clear that females are larger on average than males when you consider a whopping t = 90637 (df = 179; n = 181; p<0.0001) in a 2-sample t-test for the difference in means. A table summarizing our data is shown below.
Summary Statistics for Papilio zelicaon Pupa Mass
Mean Std Dev Median Min Max N
Male 0.9612903226 0.1132832714 1 0.7 1.2 93
Female 1.123863636 0.1259395204 1.1 0.9 1.5 88
All 1.040331492 0.1444449167 1 0.7 1.5 181
Although the difference in size between the two sexes was statistically significant, the difference isn't huge in real life, especially with the large standard deviations. Just eyeing them, the only ones that can be instantly sexed without looking at the genitalia are the massive females; even though there is only a 0.16 difference in means, the difference in maximums was 0.3. Disproportionately high female potential seems to be a common trend in the species we have reared.
What surprised us as we were collecting was how many of the pupae were exactly 1 gram, regardless of sex. For this kind of data, it would definitely have helped to use a more precise scale (perhaps to .001). This would have made the curve much smoother in the charts below and may have helped in showing the difference in size between the sexes. It is especially strange that so many of the females were 1 g, making it is hard to draw any conclusions from their distribution other than that we may have messed up. The male curve and the combined curve are both much more unimodal albeit sightly skewed.
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations on and experiences with various insects in Albany California and surrounding areas, from 2012-2017. Since we did not publish this site until 2016, posts before that were constructed retroactively. Starting in August 2017, we moved to Ithaca, New York; posts from there on can be viewed at Timeline 2017-present: Ithaca, New York.
August 2017 (49)
July 2017 (121)
June 2017 (79)
May 2017 (77)
April 2017 (91)
March 2017 (35)
February 2017 (12)
January 2017 (10)
December 2016 (12)
November 2016 (26)
October 2016 (49)
September 2016 (84)
August 2016 (94)
July 2016 (99)
June 2016 (53)
May 2016 (21)
April 2016 (4)
January 2016 (1)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (3)
June 2015 (2)
June 2014 (3)
May 2014 (1)
April 2014 (3)
March 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (5)
September 2013 (11)
August 2013 (15)
July 2013 (9)
June 2013 (5)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (2)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (2)
December 2012 (2)
November 2012 (1)
October 2012 (2)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (1)
June 2012 (1)
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
Coenonympha tullia california
Langia zenzeroides formosana
Orthosia hibisci quenquefasciata
Papilio machaon oregonius
Papilio polyxenes asterius
Samia cynthia advena
Papilio glaucus × Papilio rutulus
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Araneae (Class: Arachnida)