Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
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Swallowtail on lilac
Swallowtail on lilac
By Kelly Allsup, Extension Unit Educator, Horticulture
May 10, 2013 1:06 p.m.

Master Naturalist, Deanna Frautschi, had no trouble capturing this image of a red admiral butterfly on a trumpet vine because of a population explosion that occurred last year. This explosion is believed to have been caused by the unusually early spring and warm winter temperatures. Red Admiral butterflies migrate from the south in early spring and can be seen into the month of November. These butterflies are velvety black with red-orange bands and white dashes in the apex of the wings. The underside of the wings is marbled pink, white and black which can be seen when the butterfly is at rest. Adults feed on fermenting fruit, tree sap, bird droppings and nectar rich ornamentals including redbud, apple, milkweed, aster, pin-cushion flower, blue plumbago, coneflower and hyssop. The caterpillar of this butterfly species is black and spiny and feeds on nettles and hops. The caterpillar stops producing the juvenile hormone triggering the pupating cycle known as the (chrysalis) where this particular caterpillar actually uses a rolled up leaf to protect itself. Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup encourages homeowners and nature lovers to provide nectar rich garden plants in sunny locations protected from strong winds. Woodford County Master Gardener, Bunny Randall, reminds us that butterflies are cold blooded and warm up by basking in the sun. The best site for a butterfly garden is on the south or south-east side of a building or fence.

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