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August 19, 2017

Saturday Gardening Thread: Big Butterfly Edition [KT]

Hello, Horde! Back from vacation! Pixy has decided not to let me embed photos for now, so an abbreviated thread today. Thanks to The Horde, we have some content. I hope to be back up to speed next week.

JustGotHere sent photos of our insect species of the week, from Central Texas.

A few weeks ago, we found a few beautifully strange caterpillars on the lemon tree on our covered back patio, and discovered that they were Papilio cresphontes, the caterpillar for the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. We didn't have a camera handy when the butterflies emerged from chrysalis, but here are a couple of the photos of the Papilio cresphontes if you'd like them for the Gardening Thread.

giant cat 1.jpg

To me, they look like they are wearing crowns/tiaras, and they have tiny lavender dots on their backs -- which I did not see in any other online photos of the caterpillars. I think they are lovely critters. Keep up the great work!

giant cat 2.jpg

I could see the little lavender dots on the big original photos JustGotHere sent. I wonder if there could have been some hybridization with the Ornythion Swallowtail, which flies in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Its caterpillars seem to have more prominent lavender spots.

The Giant Swallowtail is most common in the Southeast, but is also found in other eastern states and even sometimes in Canada. Sometimes it strays into the West, too. I have never seen one.

giant swallowtail.jpg

Giant Swallowtail in Wisconsin

There are some great photos at the link above, including butterflies in the air and a size comparison between the Giant Swallowtail and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Here is a Florida subspecies. The back and front of Giant Swallowtail wings have very different appearances.


Giant Swallowtails are a pest in some citrus orchards. The caterpillars are called "orange dogs" or "orange puppies". But they lived in the USA before there were citrus trees here. They have other host plants. I'll post a photo of one next week, if Pixy takes pity on me.

All the way from Minnesota, Gordon sends the following lovely flower photo:

Usually they are white. But this is the all-blue variety, and they are pale purple. You can see the blue barrels in which they're growing.


You can really tell from that photo that potatoes are in the nightshade family. Picking any new potatoes, Gordon?

He also sent in a very interesting story on commercial strawberries. Said it made him think of our own CaliGirl.

That story reminds me of my recently deceased mother-in-law's Strawberry Flowers. Filled with cream cheese. Gorgeous. Directions in the comments.

Gardens of The Horde

Nothing new going on in my garden. Hot and humid. A strange critter landed on my arm during the night this week. I think it was a praying mantis. Startled me.

Anything going on in your garden?

If you would like to send information and/or photos for the Saturday Gardening Thread, the address is:

at g mail dot com

Include your nic unless you want to be a lurker.

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posted by Open Blogger at 12:41 PM

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