The adventures of Swansong

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  • #14331

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hey y’all. :-)

    Just thought Id weigh in on my latest escapades. Well on closer inspection we found the GREAT number of 9 Addy pillars on our U.Urens. If any of you remember my excitement last year you’ll know 9 is SIGNIFICANT. Yes, last yr we had 9 RED ADDIES!!! What a blessing! Ha, me thinks these’ll be Yellows cuz hubby saw a naughty fast Yellow about a month ago "hanging around" these 4 or 5 small U.Urens.

    Anywayz I thought right, we need to find some more nettles, to feed these guys so we asked a farmer down the road a bit and with his permission we were all good to go. Well we got about 1/2 a dozen plants of various sizes and 2 of them have plenty enough leaves for the addies, so Im stoked.

    There was one plant I’m particularly interested in and a little concerned about. I’d seriously doubt if it had been sprayed but it sure looks munted. Id describe the leaves as:

    1/ looking more "leathery" and somewhat "fluffy" than normal, instead of the more or less flat look of a healthy leaf.

    2/Some leaves have a "bubbly" appearance in places, sort of like silver beet.

    3/ A lot of the new leaves are curled in at the edges as if they have a pillar whose made a tent. On pulling these very gently apart, theres been no pillar in most of them.

    Now, I did a rough count up and I found about 4 or 5 more Addies on this plant and 2 caterpillars which I dont know. Im 90% sure these arent addies as theyre long and thin and greenish with no horizontal stripes and the hairs are altogether different and no where near as marked. Im going to post a couple of photo’s for Jacqui to put up and Id appreciate any comments….. to my knowledge all Addy pillars especially when very tiny are darkish quite shiny and you can certainly see the hairs.

    Norm Im hoping youre looking on…

    Cheers

    Swansong

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
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  • #24665

    Swansong
    Participant

    Indeed, I agree with Jacqui, so thankyou Norm for all that!.

    Cheers
    Swansong

    #24662

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Wow, Norm, you’re a marvellous source of information. Thank you on behalf of us all for what your contribute. Makes very interesting reading.

    J.

    #24661

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Swansong,

    Summer emerged Admirals will have died off by now, and Autumn emerged Admiral butterflies are now overwintering until Spring, when they will again start egg laying, so your small nettles will be safe. Even though the odd Red or Yellow admiral butterfly may be occasionally seen flying on a sunny day during the Winter, they are not in egg laying mode.
    Eggs that were laid in Autumn hatch, and their caterpillars will overwinter in slow develop mode until the temperatures start consistently rising as Spring approaches, at which stage they will quickly mature and pupate.
    Last year on 30th June I noticed an admiral pupae attached to the side fence where my nettles were growing. I had not noticed it previously so I had no idea of when the caterpillar had pupated, but I kept watch on it. August 14 I noticed it had coloured up so I went inside to get my camera as the colour indicated the pupa was not infected and in the final stages. When I returned again to take a photo the butterfly had already emerged and was hanging from the pupa shell to dry, so I carefully coaxed it on to a stick and transferred it in to the Butterfly house with the “inside mob”. The day was one of a string of four warm sunny days in a row and the measured temperature at the pupal shell on the fence was 20 degrees, which ties in with what I have found over the years of recording. Mating, egg laying, pupating and eclosing (emerging from the pupa) only occur when the temperature is above 17 – 18 degrees C.
    Summer pupation time for Yellow admirals is around 14 – 16 days, and my pupa on the fence at 45 days from the time I first noticed it shows how extended the maturing time can be during cold weather, and this applies to all phases of the life cycle.
    Hope all the extra information is of help.

    Cheers
    Norm.

    #24660

    Swansong
    Participant

    Ah thats GREAT about being frost hardy!

    They all went outside last night and thankfully it wasnt a really cold night so it wouldve hopefully given them a better chance of acclimatizing than going directly from warm inside to freezing outside.

    The only thing Im brassed off about at this stage is my biggest pillar has disppeared off his plant. I dont think he was big enough to go into a J. Ive got the plants with pillars on them, under some bird netting covers which hubby made up and I use to protect young veges etc. so certainly no birds would have got him. One of those mysteries :-(.

    Oh well…

    I went to the park this a.m. and apparently they weeded out the nettle last Friday …. grrrrrrr … however there were quite a number of tiny plants with say 1/2 doz leaves on. Healthy as. I brought home about a dozen of those and theyre planted in my garden where they can get some sun.

    Norm, how likely is it Mrs Addy will come along and lay at this time of the year? Do I still need to cover them up? I know with Monarchs the eggs can last a lot longer than I initially thought. I wonder how long the eggs of Addies will last?

    Cheers
    Swansong

    #24656

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Urtica urens is frost hardy, as long as it gets a little sun during the day.
    When living in Palmerston North I had U.urens in the veg. garden hosting admiral caterpillars that handled -4 degrees of frost with no setbacks.

    Cheers.

    #24653

    Swansong
    Participant

    Norm thankyou! My very thoughts have been your exact words. That is, about the feed lasting if the pillars are put outside because they slow their growth. Im gonna do this.

    OK the question now is, I just cant remember if U.Urens is frost tender or semi frost tender???. We’ve had a couple of average frosts a couple of weeks ago, and the 2 larger plants would certainly have been there then, and probably all the others too. However its debatable if they actually got “touched” with the frost as they were nearby to trees, in some cases under.

    Ive got to come up with a plan though to keep the pillars within an enclosure outside because a couple of them are getting quite big and there’s NO WAY do I want to lose them! Today we’re just the otherside of the shortest day and its almost like summer here. Very very pleasant and warm.

    Oh my last Monarch hatched on the shortest day : ).

    #24646

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Swansong,

    The Silver Y caterpillars are semi-loopers so it sounds like yours is not one. Mind you that could be a blessing in disguise for the Silver Y caterpillars also feed on the leaves and fruit of tomatoes, beans, potatoes and several other garden plants. If you keep your admiral caterpillars in a safe containment outside, they will be in ‘winter’ mode and their metabolism will slow right down to the point where they will consume the nettle leaves very slowly, waiting for temperatures to warm up so they can pupate. This may keep the nettle growth ahead of consumption, so this will give you breathing space to locate a some more nettles. Don’t worry about the cold for they can withstand several degrees of frost with no effect, they are hardy little critters. This time of year most of the predators are hibernating, with birds being the main exception.
    If on the other hand they are kept indoors at warmer temperatures they will develop normally and emerge as butterflies possibly late July, depending on their present size. Releasing them at that time even on a sunny day is doubtful whether they will survive, having pupated and prepared for what they imagine is Spring conditions.

    Cheers
    Norm.

    #24639

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hi Norm, thanks for the response.

    Im pretty sure when I watched this caterpillar it didn’t loop. I know one thing, it was FAST! …like it moved VERY quickly. Yesterday I squished one and left the one I photographed. BTW it was photographed on a pair of tweezers so you can see its pretty tiny. Well, I will get the Addies off this one and that “foreigner” can have the munted plant, and I might watch and see what it looks like as it progresses. Is the SilverY Moth a pest or harmless? I forgot to mention, that this one appeared to make a bit more “white silky stuff” within the leaf it was inhabiting.

    Now the nettles I got were dotted around the base of a line of Macrocarpa trees which border onto cattle yards. Theres been recent activity (in the last 6mths to a year) in the way of some trees been cut down, so theres been a real assortment of weeds that have sprung up, some having now done their dash. I doubt very much if just one plant would have been sprayed (on purpose), but then again they werent all together in one place either. As I say, they were dotted around probably within a 30 to 40 feet of each other. Im trying to remember exactly where this one was. I THINK it was on its own whereas some plants were in a cluster, and all pretty healthy. I wouldnt rule out the possibility of chemical damage whether it be from chainsaw fumes/oil or some other “goings on” around the yards, like someone biffing the last of some calf drench out, or something.

    Two of the nettles are quite a bit larger than the others, each with a couple of the longest stems being about 18inches. It looks like I will have about 14 Addies and Im going to try and keep the ones off the munted plant seperate so if theres anything funky with them I’ll know why. Now, with 2nd thoughts Im wondering if I will have enough food.
    Heres hoping.

    Cheers Swansong

    #24638

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    PS.
    Silver Y moth caterpillars use nettles as a hostplant also, they are semi-loopers.

    Cheers
    Norm.

    #24637

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Swansong,

    Pleased to see you have admirals again. The photo of the green caterpillar is not an admiral. Admirals have a black head capsule until the fourth instar moult at which point they have an olive green or brownish head capsule. Is the green caterpillar a looper/semi-looper? When walking these caterpillars draw their hind legs up to the front legs, forming a loop, and then stretching out the front half again. There are many moths that have green caterpillars and the only sure way to identify them is to wait until they reach moth stage, when identification becomes more practical.
    The sick looking nettle is either diseased or has been sprayed, and the ‘tents’ could perhaps have been made by caterpillars that have since succumbed to the spray.
    I would tend to dispose of the said plant, and if possible source some other nettles for your admiral caterpillars.

    #24635

    Swansong
    Participant

    Thanks Jacqui for putting those up. Im keen for comments and Im sorry the photos were a bit hurried…as such, the focus is anything BUT stellar, but hopefully clear enough for you to get the idea.

    I want to know what that caterpillar is cuz I dont want it competing with my Addies for tucker.

    Cheers
    Swansong

    #24633

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Here are Swansong’s photos.

    Great to have you back in here. I’m enjoying your adventures too.

    Nettle photos from Swansong

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