Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lime tree has a sleepover! five invited guests.

My little lime tree has been having some guests to sleepover - catterpillars.  Round about the time of the cyclone I commented how many orchard swallowtail butterflies there were, and they were flitting about my lime tree.  Clearly they were laying eggs.   Now I love butterflies, but I also love my lime tree, so what to do.....?
I picked a few off and moved them over to my neighbours huge kaffir lime tree - I am sure that can support a few more catterpillars.  I kept five - I think they are the same as I watched one emerge last year. orchard-swallowtail-butterfly- .   those I had on a branch I had picked from a  neighbours tree, but this time I clearly have a preffered host plant for them.
Citrus fruit can be plagued by a lot of problems in the tropics, but limes are more resistant than lemons or oranges.  I had bought some oil spray thinking that the curling leaves were a sign of  leaf miner, but havnt used it yet.   Now I am not so sure I will use it as it might kill the caterpillars AKA baby butterflies!  I just hand plucked the few leaves that seemed to have prolems. 
The catterpillars have been munching on the leaves and getting fatter and fatter.


Look at those spines!  These photos are not so good as it was pouring with rain all week.



Eventually they began to stop eating and postion themselves for the change - you can see the thin threads this one has formed to support the chrysalis in which it will stay for about two weeks until it emerges as a butterfly!



Already the size is reduced by about a third - it must take a lot of energy to get into the proper position.
The rain doesnt sem to have affected them at all.

7 comments:

  1. They look like mythical sea dragon.

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  2. We get those on our Eureka Lemon tree ;) So impressed you're doing your bit to conserve them!

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  3. Great shots! We get swallowtails on our citrus here in Florida as well, though not that variety. Yes, citrus is plagued by many things, which is why I've never planted a citrus of any kind. I'm possibly the only Central Florida gardener who hasn't.

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  4. Your going to have some wonderful butterflies and the lime tree won't mind too much being chomped.

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  5. Malay Kadazan,
    they do have a rather strange look about them dont they?
    Rohrebot,
    I am just totally fascinated by them.
    Desiree,
    This is the second year I have been able to monitor the awesome transformation.
    Floridagirl,
    We used to have a neighbour with a lemon tree and it was so convenient to pick one whenever I needed, hoping mine will be prolific soon.
    Missy,
    It is amazing how I can already see new shoots where they guzzled them all!

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  6. How awesome to witness this wonderful progress and capturing them spot on, Gillian! Thanks for sharing, I simply love seeing such images as I've never got to see these life!

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