Great Purple Hairstreak Rearing Project
September 23, 2001. This is an experiment for getting larvae of the Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly (Atlides halesus estesi). I have tied a sleeve around a bunch of mistletoe, which is the larval foodplant. Then I catch live females flying nearby and release them into the sleeve. I placed a tin can with water and nectar flowers inside the sleeve, hanging by a wire. Why go to all this trouble? To avoid transferring ova and larvae to fresh food. Last year I tried rearing the larvae on mistletoe cuttings, but I had a very high mortality rate because I had to keep transferring the ova and tiny larvae to fresh cuttings every 4 days or so. It is extremely difficult to transfer first and second instar larvae of this species - they die easily when they become dislodged from the leaves. I am trying this sleeve method so I don't have to worry about transferring to fresh food. Hopefully nature will take its course and when I come back six weeks later I will have lots of halesus pupae in the sleeve. Stay tuned for my report in late November.