Red Admiral breeding

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  • #15155

    Anna
    Participant

    I have a fresh batch of Red Admiral butterflies that have been eclosing over the last few days (30 so far), and have kept most of them in my Gazebo butterfly enclosure…the temporary one while the new permanent one is in the process of being built.

    What interests me is that some pair, or sit together very close at dusk, as if they are ‘thinking’ about pairing, where as others like to just lurk by themselves as loners. They are all feeding well etc, and as well enjoy a daily mid afternoon misting to keep the moisture up as I guess they would get if they were in a forest area.

    Does anyone know much about the amount of pheramones (?) Red Admirals seem to give off, in comparison th Yellow Admirals, and the magpie moths? I’m wondering if its a lot less…or why they seem to have less of a sex drive than the others?

    I’m lucky to have a mix of male and females so far, and lots of nettle and nectar plants for them….and they have plenty of room (4 metres by 4 metres by 2.5 metres high) for chasing etc.

    With my last batch I did get females laying fertile eggs, but a lot of them didn’t bother breeding, but just enjoyed life as spinsters/batchelors.

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  • #29922

    Anna
    Participant

    Thanks for that Norm. I have kept a couple of them so if possible will photograph one to see if it matches the Cotesia glomerata.
    I’m not sure if it would be Cotesia glomerata though as the caterpillar shrivels up and dries out and nothing emerges.

    (I have kept several Meteorus pulchricornis with the cocoons, and wasps that eventually emerged. These were from Magpie Moth victims.)

    #29920

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Anna I’m not sure which one you are referring to. I have sent two photos and will connect them here when they come through.
    The first is Cotesia (was Apanteles) glomerata,another biological control imported in the 1930’s to also help with the control of the white butterfly, and is now attacking native moths and butterflies. The wasp injects its eggs, from 20 – 60 depending on the size of the caterpillar, and when hatched feed on the interior of the caterpillar. On maturing the grubs bore out through the skin of the caterpillar and form a cocoon. Seven out of ten field-caught magpie moth caterpillars I reared turned out to be infected, the photo showing one of them.
    The second one is Meteorus pulchricornis, a self introduced wasp that injects one egg into its host with similar consequences for the caterpillar, and when this grub exits the caterpillar it lowers itself on a silken thread and then spins its cocoon around itself and pupates inside. These infect admirals and other moth caterpillars.
    Photos here:

    parasites

    #29902

    Anna
    Participant

    Norm, Have you ever come across another parasite that seems to attack admiral caterpillars, and makes them writhe around for a while, then they shrivel and die? Its smaller than the Pteromalus puparium. I have noticed it at times when raising magpie moth and Admiral caterpillars. Its different to the wasp that then forms the coccoon.?

    #29830

    Anna
    Participant

    Thanks Norm. These ones have taken longer to pair than any other batches that I have raised, but other than that they seem happy enough. Some may have paired before tonight, and I haven’t seen them…some have been ovipositing esp when we get a sunny day. I tend to take a couple of photos when I do see a pairing, so I can keep a record of them, and keep an eye out when I see a marked one ovipositing. (I mark them with a tiny dot of twink)

    #29827

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    No I have always considered them too small to handpair, and too feisty. My philosophy is that they will pair when conditions suit them and in their own time when they are ready, and I am in no hurry. While female butterflies can mate as soon as they eclose, males need a day or two for their claspers to firm up, and I have Reds wait a week to ten days before they mate.

    #29825

    Anna
    Participant

    They have started pairing now…but aren’t half as keen to as the Yellow Admirals, or Monarchs.
    Perhaps that may be another reason they are scarcer than the others?
    Norm…have you ever successfully handpaired Red Admirals?

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