Rearing Papilio rutulus
It is almost impossible to find the larvae of rutulus in the wilds in my area - their camouflage is just too good and they are usually up too high in the tree tops to make hunting for them practical. The idea for this project is to get the live female swallowtails to oviposit in captivity. I tried two methods: a flight cage outdoors and a 'hot box' indoors. Here you see my flight cage method. This cage is made from window screen hardware. It stands 4 feet high. I purchased this cage form Insectcages.com a few years ago, but now they seem to be out of business. You can find similar cages in reptile pet stores. I have placed the potted willow host plant inside, plus potted and cut nectar sources. The potted willow was obtained from a local botanical garden that specializes in native plants. I experimented with various potted flowers from the nursery. The tiger swallowtails seemed to like Pentas for feeding. I sprayed the cage with water at once a day. On hot days the butterflies will eagerly drink the water droplets from the screen and the plant leaves.
This large flight cage method worked somewhat. The female butterflies did lay some eggs, but only when hot sunshine was on the cage - the hotter the better. I got better results with my 'hotbox'. See Next.