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photo of butterfly in cage

Baird's Swallowtail Rearing Project - Ovipositing
(Papilio machaon bairdii)

photo of butterfly eggsThe wild-caught female bairdii is pictured here laying eggs on the host plant. Notice how her abdomen is curling up to find a suitable leaf surface to deposit an egg. I got about 70 eggs from two females before they finally died. I attribute this success to three factors: 1) The host plant was touching the top of the cage so the butterfly could not avoid it and the cage was small enough to ensure contact, 2) nectar flowers are in close proximity to the host plant, and 3) the cage was placed in the bright sunshine during morning hours. The soft screening material used to make the cage proved to be a good decision - it prevented excessive abrasion on the butterfly's wings and body. (I tried this on another occasion using a cage made with aluminum screening but the butterfly tore herself up rapidly before she could finish laying all her ova. I don't recommend aluminum screening.) And finally, I misted the cage frequently with water during the ovipositing period so the butterflies had plenty of water to drink.

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