Category Archives: Caterpillars

Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest Winners!

Congratulations to all our “Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest” winners!

Sphinx Moth 1st place contest winner

1st Place ~ Surprised Terra Sphinx Moth

The Aqua Lady Butterfly Bracelet
. . . goes to wingedthing for the adorable Terra Spinx Moth Caterpillar with the surprise look on its face!

Black Swallowtail 2nd Place Contest Winner

2nd Place ~ Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

The Painted Lady Butterfly Caterpillar Kit
. . . goes to Michael Marlow ( for the Black Swallowtail caterpillar making a meal of parsley buds and stems in a backyard garden.

Sphinx Moth 3rd Place Winner

3rd Place ~ Hungry Terra Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

The Haven Brand Soil Conditioner Teas – Assorted 3 Pack
. . . goes to Edith at Shady Oaks Butterfly Farm for the very hungry Terra Sphinx Moth!

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Think Caterpillars Are Cute?


Cute Swallowtail Caterpillar

We think caterpillars are cute. . . If you do too, leave us a comment about our caterpillar and then vote for the cutest caterpillar in the OWB Flutter-Blog “Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest“. Better yet, register to enter your favorite caterpillar photograph for a chance to win some great prizes!

Prizes will be awarded to the photographs with the most votes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place!

The OWB Flutter-Blog Cutest Caterpillar Contest ends Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

How To Enter

  • Register to enter.
  • Post your favorite caterpillar photograph. (click on the post photos link)
  • Don’t forget to vote for your favorite caterpillar!
  • Share this link with your friends on Facebook or your favorite social network.
  • Follow Us on Twitter!

How to Win

  • Prizes will be awarded to the photos with the most votes, so be sure to tell your friends to vote! (You can only vote once)
  • Tweet up your cute caterpillar entry.
  • Share this contest post on Facebook.
  • Winners will be notified by email.
  • Winners will be posted on the OWB Flutter-Blog.


  • Entries must be of a caterpillar and submitted by the original photographer.
  • Any image deemed inappropriate by Flutter-Blog admin will be removed.
  • Contest ends Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 at midnight PST (Pacific Standard Time).
  • No purchase necessary.
  • Sorry, the Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest is open to U.S. residents only.


1st Place Prize: Aqua Lady Butterfly Bracelet (value $39.00)
Winged Inspirations Fine Butterfly Jewelry

Sponsored by Obsession With Butterflies

Aqua Lady Butterfly Bracelet from Winged Inspirations

1st PLACE Aqua Lady Butterfly Bracelet Sponsored by Obsession With Butterflies

2nd Place Prize: Painted Lady Butterfly Caterpillar Kit (value $19.00)
Live Butterflies For Release, Classroom Education, Children’s
Parties, Weddings, Butterfly Rearing Supplies
Sponsored by Chase N’ Butterflies

Painted Lady Butterfly Larvae Kit

2nd PLACE Butterfly Larvae Kit sponsored by Chase N' Butterflies

3rd Place Prize: Haven Brand Soil Conditioner Teas – Assorted 3 Pack (value $12.95)
All-natural, premium soil conditioner teas for the home gardener, landscaper and farmer. Haven Brand uses only the highest quality manures from livestock that are raised on permanent, native grass pastures at the Haven Family Ranch.
Sponsored by Haven Brand

Manure Tea

3rd PLACE Assorted 3 Pack Premium Soil Conditioner Teas sponsored by Haven Brand

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Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest

Think Caterpillars are cute? Well then, cast a vote for your favorite caterpillar photograph, or better yet, register and enter your own cute caterpillar photograph into the Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest for a chance to win some great prizes!
Enter the Cutest Caterpillar Photo Contest by submitting your own original photograph of a cute caterpillar. Prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners!
Contest ends Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 at midnight

Post photos | Recently added | Most views | Top rated

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Smoking Swallowtails? Dutchman’s Pipevine Butterflies gone wild…

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) on Pink Saliva

A male pipevine swallowtail attempts to flirt with a female as she lays her eggs...

I recently visited a grove where the Pipevine Swallowtail’s host plant, the Dutchman’s Pipevine, grew vigorously. Here, in this shaded and otherwise peaceful wood, there was a state of butterfly pandemonium happening.

Male butterflies zealously chased female butterflies hoping to strike up a romance. The maternally driven ladies ignored the amorous males advances, and instead, tirelessly their laid eggs.


Female Pipevine Butterflies Laying Eggs

Other winged chaps spent their time attempting to defend their precious territories. Boldly these fellows chased their counterparts about the treetops, creating flashes of brilliant blue which rivaled the skies above. Stoic females continued to cooly oviposit, again, dismissing out of wing, the males showy displays.

The forest was a frenzy of flutter! Everywhere I stood I was bombarded by the scuttle of a wing. It was courtship chaos where no basking perch, nectar blossom nor host tendril was safe!

Are these Pipevine Swallowtail ingesting their host plant or smoking it?

The pipevine butterflies exhibited crazed mating and reproductive behaviors, as if they had all gone wild with passion. In no other species have I observed the sexes acting out their respective roles in such a fervent manner.

Made me wonder for a moment, if these swallowtail caterpillars had actually smoked, instead of ingested their host plant, the Dutchman’s Pipevine?

This hardy vine does, after all, as it’s name suggests, resemble a Dutchman’s pipe. When in bloom it flaunts, amongst it’s green-hearted foliage, oddly shaped flowers which form in an appearance similar to that of a dutchman’s pipe.

Dutchman's Pipevine (Aristolochia gigantea)

Male Pipevine on Purple Penstemon

Whatever the motivation, pipes or genetics, what was going on in the grove that day was nothing short of spectacular to behold for the butterfly enthusiast. Pipevine swallowtails are indeed vibrant and entertaining creatures at every stage of their development.

Years ago, when less exotic planting choices where available at local nurseries, people commonly grew Dutchman’s Pipevine in their gardens. Often they used it to cover and adorn porches, arbors and fences. Pipevine swallowtails could then be found more frequently in populated areas, even in urban neighborhoods.

To ensure the survival of this species be sure to plant Dutchman’s Pipevine somewhere in your yard. Keep Mother Nature’s show going! Support her dramatic and colorful productions. Then just sit back under your vine shaded porch, sway gently on your swing and enjoy the show… and your Pipe?… vine too! KD

Male Pipevine on Yellow Yarrow

Click the  Pipevine’s Wing below to learn more about this swallowtail…

Pipevine Swallowtail Wing


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A Drive-Thru Nature…

Burger, Fries & Some Nature Please…

Fast Food Joint

Hold The Mayo, Extra Butterflies!

Tiger Swallowtail on Plumbago

You don’t have to go far to experience the wonders of Nature, because, whether you notice them or not, they surround you everyday! I was reminded of this recently as I frequented one of my favorite fast food joints.

While sitting in the drive-thru, dreaming of french fries, I noticed a delicate tiger swallowtail sailing by. She glided carefreely past me and landed somewhere within a large patch of Plumbago.

Plumbago Blossoms

As I watched the swallowtail disappear into the foliage, the sweet n’salty fantasy of fries drifted from my mind and I began to think about where the butterfly had flown off to. What other creatures might be found hidden amongst the sapphire hues of the Plumbago plant?

Male Marine Blue

I mused over how many times I had sat in this same line, driven past this delightful spot, which was teeming with butterflies and other winged creatures, and had not even noticed it. Did others, who idled here, waiting to order their burgers and such, ever see it, I wondered?

With curiosity driving me, I cruised the drive-thru, parked my car, ate lunch, grabbed my camera and proceed to climb down a small slope to a spot where I could further explore this newly discovered smorgasbord of Nature. I was not to be disappointed!

Lady Bug

Waves of Marine Blues swirled about on afternoon breezes mimicking ocean currents. Opalescent n’ indigo males moved with soft n’ fair females. A Violet Dancer cut in. Blue-gray blossoms of Plumbago complemented the performers charming display of ebb and flow.

Violet Dancer Damselfly

A youthful praying mantis played camouflage with me. He turned his mysterious gaze my way for just a moment then vanished back into the verdant jungle from which he came.

Fiery Skippers quenched their thirst with candied nectar from cool blooms. The blazing red lady bugs who appeared failed to alarm them. Itty bitty Marine Blue caterpillars munched away at sea-colored petals as if to pay tribute to their namesake and an alabaster butterfly floated in like a tide of innocence.

Female Marine Blue

What appetite could not have been satisfied here, in Nature, where such a feast of diverse beauty was being offered? Having my fill and feeling most content, I began to head back up the hill towards my car, when one more irresistible course was served.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Out from the meandering Plumbago arose the lovely swallowtail that had first caught my eye. She gracefully circled, then set down briefly upon a branch to rest.  As she affably perched, revealing her magnificent wings, I could not help but think of how she was reflecting back to me the delicious banquet of creation I had just been blessed enough to enjoy.   KD <

Young Praying Mantis

Skipper Sipping Nectar

Marine Blue Caterpillar

White on Plumbago

Big Mac,


Quarter Pounder,

French Fries,  Icy Coke,

Thick Shakes,  Sundays &

Apple Pies….

Hmmm.. think I will take “Nature” the healthy choice instead!

Click the fast food clipart to learn more about California’s Butterflies,

(including Marine Blues) and download informational PDFs for free.

Bon Appetite from OWB!

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Butterfly Gardening With Manure Tea

Butterfly GardenNothing has sparked more life back into my tired (hum, or am I talking about me?) butterfly garden than Haven Brand Manure Tea!  This is not tea for drinking, but a blend of natural manure made from pesticide and antibiotic free, grass fed livestock from the Haven Ranch in San Juan Capistrano, California. Realizing the demand from local farmers for her natural soil fertilizer, Annie Haven, of Haven Ranch came up with a wonderful way to package up her naturally rich soil conditioners for the home gardener.

Pipevine SwallowtailHaven Brand manure teas keep my butterfly gardening blooming all year with lots of flowering nectar plants to feed the butterflies that visit my garden and enough healthy vegetation to feed all my “very hungry caterpillars“.  To read more about which plants caterpillars like to eat, visit our Butterfly Host Plants page.

Master magician, munching to and fro, a caterpillar works illusions til’ the end of his show ~K. D’Angelo

Western Tiger Swallowtail

There is no a better way to entice butterflies into your garden then with healthy, butterfly nectar and host plants.

Female butterflies have evolved to be very picky individuals when it comes to laying their eggs. Even when a prospective plant feels, tastes and smells just like the right species, it may be rejected by the female butterfly for a variety of reasons.  It may be to exposed to the elements. It may be to wet? Fungus could grow here! It may be to hot? The eggs might dry up? Evidence of competition may also be present. Chewed leaves mean less food available. Healthy plants means more food available for her young munching offspring. Even the prospective plant may be out to trick the female butterfly by displaying “false eggs” which advertise “no vacancy” here!

Lorquin's Admiral Egg on WillowWhat’s a mother to do? On average a female butterfly may visit up to 10 prospective host plants before picking the perfect one! Even after she has made her choice, she may spend up to 9 hours surveying and selecting precise leaves on which to deposit her eggs. You couldn’t ask for a more spectacular show then watching a female butterfly dance upon your butterfly garden for hours.

A concerned mother plans for her children’s future! She lays her eggs diligently. Depending on the species she may lay them singularly or in a group. She may lay them on the underside of a leaf or in a crevasse. Most always she lays them on the most tender leaves. She may use the simple eye” on her abdomen to lay on the tip of a twisted tendril.

Butterfly Garden Real Estate SignA female butterfly is not a Realtor, but she might as well be. Location is everything to her! Location, location, an investment in her species future…

Haven Brand Manure TeaHaven Brand Manure Teas or as Annie Haven says “Moo Poo” teas are odor free and come pre-measured and ready to brew in its own gauze draw-string pouch. It’s so easy to make brew up a jar of this miracle liquid fertilizer, just fill a container with up to five gallons of water, drop in a tea bag and let it “steep” for a day or two.  Water your indoor or outdoor plants with the brew and in no time, you’ll be rewarded with bigger, healthier plants, fruits, vegetables  and flowers!

You can find Haven Brand Natural Tea Soil Conditioners online at

Enjoy the butterflies,


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Raising Painted Lady Butterflies

Painted Lady Butterflies

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady Butterflies are one of the most widely distributed butterflies in the world, they can be found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. Migration and the wide range of available host plants is what helps make the painted ladies so widely distributed.  The larvae (caterpillars) of Painted Ladies feed on more than 100 types of host plants, particularly Thistles (Asteraceae), Mallows (Malvaceae) which include Hollyhock (Alcea) and Cheeseweed (parviflora).

Girl Holding Painted Lady Butterfly

Mackenzie’s Butterfly

Painted Ladies are one of the easiest butterflies to raise because not only will the young larvae feed on so many different host plants, they will also feed on a specially formulated artificial diet.  This artificial diet makes it possible for the larvae to be sold in butterfly rearing kits and are often raised and studied in classrooms by elementary students.  The popularity of “Butterfly Larvae Rearing Kits” has also contributed to the distribution of these beautiful and abundant butterflies.

It’s fun and easy to raise Painted Lady Butterflies and rearing butterflies is truly an educational experience that every child will certainly enjoy and remember for years to come.  The easiest way to raise Painted Lady Butterflies is by purchasing a Butterfly Rearing Kit.

Butterfly Rearing Kit

Butterfly Rearing Kit

One of the most popular kits is made by Insect Lore, the kits include a reusable pop-up butterfly habitat, artificial diet and easy to follow instructions. The kits don’t actually contain any butterfly larvae, you will need to mail or FAX the enclosed coupon to Insect Lore, once you receive the larva in the mail, the fun begins!

The larvae will feed on the artificial diet for about 10 to 14 days and when they are ready, they will begin to crawl to the top of the food container. Once they have securely attached themselves to the top of the container, they will begin their miraculous metamorphic change, shedding their skin one last time to expose the their final layer, which is known as the chrysalis.  At which time you can transfer the lid with the attached chrysalises to the butterfly habitat.

Painted Lady Butterfly Eggs

Tiny Blue Eggs of the Painted Lady Butterfly

In about 10 to 14 days, your beautiful painted lady butterflies will emerge from their chrysalises.  You will get to enjoy watching the butterflies in the butterfly habitat.  To extend the fun and life of your newly emerged butterflies, you can feed the butterflies by providing fresh flowers for nectar and variety of fruits, like slices of banana, peach, cherries, watermelon and oranges.

After a few days in captivity, you may consider adding one of the butterfly host plants I mentioned above and you will certainly be rewarded with an ample supply of tiny blue butterfly eggs!  Make sure you will have an ample supply of pesticide free host plants to feed the hatchlings, if not or you can order some ready-made artificial diet from our butterfly gift shop.

Painted Lady Butterfly Larvae

Win A Painted Lady Butterfly Larvae Kit

If you’ve already had the pleasure of raising painted lady butterflies and already have a butterfly habitat, you will be able to simply order a butterfly refill larvae kit for your butterfly enclosure.

At anytime you may want to release your adult painted lady Butterflies into your backyard, local park or butterfly garden.

To learn more about butterfly gardening for the benefit of butterflies, visit our Butterfly Gardening web page!

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Mourning Cloak’s… A Joy to Behold!

The Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa, is one of the most common butterflies to be found in many regions throughout the world. There are several reasons why this handsome flier is so prevalent, but one of the most influential factors is that it uses a vareity of well known host plants, such as the Poplar, Cottonwood, Willow and Elm. These ardent trees are often wide spread and ample in supply, so it is no surprise that the butterfly, which depends on them, is also happily represented.

Mourning Cloak’s, like other Tortoiseshells and Anglewings, overwinter as adult’s and do not migrate. This, along with their ability to efficiently absorb heat into their dark scales, contributes to their having a longer season in which to frequent our skies. These hearty fliers are often among the very first butterflies to be seen in the spring and one of the last to disappear from sight in the fall.

Besides being conspicuous in their adult stage, Mourning Cloaks, are also known for their gregarious social behaviors as caterpillars. It is clear that they support the “There is Safety in Numbers” philosophy. Mourning Cloaks eggs are most always laid by the female in large groups and remain in this close knit formation throughout their larval stage. Birds and other predators are sure to be frightened off by a rowdy crowd of up to 50 or more spiky red and black caterpillars who may menacingly shake the branch in unison when threatened.

Only after having filled their voracious appetites, moving together, stripping one branch after another of its foliage, do the larva part ways. Trees appear to be raining caterpillars when the Mourning Cloaks begin to drop from them like parachuters. It seems as if these stealthy crawlers are fleeing the scene of a crime when they free fall unto the ground quickly seeking to distance themselves from their host plant. After taking the plunge, the caterpillars will journey alone until they find a safe place to pupate, metamorphose from chrysalis to butterfly, and be earth bound travelers no more.

Nymphalis antiopa is a delightful species which spreads it’s wings throughout  many countries, populating parts of Europe, Asia and the North American Continent. In England, this butterfly is known as the Camberwell Beauty, but worldwide is called by many other names such as Grand Surprise and White Petticoat.

In North America, due to its resemblance to a traditional cloak worn when one is “in mourning”, it has been given the title Mourning Cloak, but no matter where or by whom this reddish-brown, cream and blue beauty is spied, I think all can agree that she is a not at all sorrowful, but instead a true joy to behold.

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