Releasing a butterfly into the wild. Help.

Discussion in 'Butterfly / Moth' started by bradders33, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi all,

    Can anyone assist me please?

    I found a lost caterpillar on my front door "wandering" looking for a place to pupate in August.

    I brought him indoors and popped him in a homemade nursery and he turned to a chrysalis that night. I expected him to emerge after a fortnight, but it has taken nearly three months!

    He emerged as a butterfly last night, but now I am thinking what will happen to the poor thing when I release him? Is it not too cold for him to survive? He's happily having a slurp of sugar water at the moment.. Whilst I ask you guys for your opinion!

    Many Thanks,
    Bradders33.

    moderator's note: added a more descriptive title to topic
     
  2. Loading...


  3. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Messages:
    29,088
    Likes Received:
    6,278
    Location:
    Scotland
    It would help us to help you if we knew which part of the world you come from Bradders.
    Here in Scotland it wouldn't be wise to release a butterfly at this time of year as we're having very low temperatures and severe frosts. If, however, you are in a country where there are still lots of flowers in bloom and the weather is warm enough then you should be able to let the butterfly go free.
    If in doubt though then maybe there is a butterfly farm near you that you could advice from. They may even take the butterfly to add to their stock.

    Welcome to GardenStew by the way. I hope you'll stick around and get to know us. :stew2:
     
  4. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    20,542
    Likes Received:
    19,832
    Hello there,
    i also wonder what sort of butterfly it is. Some can go into a dorment stage and exist like that throughout the winter, but very many cannot. In any event,
    I think that if it is at all cold where you are, the poor thing may not survive out of doors.

    Wishing you success.
     
  5. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thanks!

    Sorry, I am in the UK. In Milton Keynes, it's not exactly warm down here either!

    My nearest butterfly park appears to be in Bedford, but the line is dead and the website says they close at winter.

    Any suggestions gratefully received.
     



    Advertisement
  6. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Messages:
    19,634
    Likes Received:
    5,061
    Location:
    North Central Texas, Zone 8a
    What species of butterfly is it? Some will over winter in fallen leaves even in cold weather. Some remain in the chrysalis all winter only coming out when the temps warm up in the spring.

    Knowing which species will let you know if it should be kept inside all winter or let go now before the weather gets worse.
     
  7. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    This is the butterfly.. I don't know what he is.. I can't get a photo of him with his wings open sadly.

    [​IMG]
    Another shot. ( photo / image / picture from bradders33's Garden )





    [​IMG]
    This is him! ( photo / image / picture from bradders33's Garden )
     
    Frank likes this.
  8. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Messages:
    29,088
    Likes Received:
    6,278
    Location:
    Scotland
    Your butterfly could be a Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly/Phoebis sennae sennae. I can't actually tell from your picture just how big it is though. :-? Can you remember what the caterpillar looked like? It would help me ID it properly for you.
     
  9. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi Eileen,

    Looking at his wings, one is say, a bit bigger than a penny, when closed.

    As for the caterpillar, he was a small, thin, smooth, vibrant green one. Hope that helps?

    Thanks,
    Vickki.
     
  10. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    He just briefly open his wings, they have two brown spots on each.
     
  11. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Messages:
    29,088
    Likes Received:
    6,278
    Location:
    Scotland
    Thanks for the additional info Bradders it has really helped me to ID your butterfly. I'm almost sure now that it's a Small White/Pieris Rapae - female. :-D

    They don't overwinter like some other species do so your little friend may not live too long. :( She won't be able to lay eggs either as she's not been mated. Just keep doing exactly what you are for her and let her live out her life without fear of predation.
     
  12. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Ahhh, thanks Eileen, I have just looked up pictures of that butterfly and caterpillar and that is definitely the one! So "he" is a she?.. Bless her.

    I feel bad now, as I bet she has emerged early, because the heating on the house has started to come on, she probably thinks it is spring. I feel guilty as I didn't know this was wrong. I was just trying to do a little lost caterpillar a favour!

    What should I feed her? I have been giving her sugar water, a flower and some fresh apple, she has eaten from the sugar water and apple so far, but I want to do right by her.

    How long do you think she will live then?

    I just feel really bad that she won't get the chance to experience flight.
     
  13. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Messages:
    29,088
    Likes Received:
    6,278
    Location:
    Scotland
    The adult female butterflies can lay as many as three generations of eggs each year from May to September. Sometimes, if the weather is warm enough, then the third batch of eggs can be laid as late as early October.

    The adults can survive from 156 - 220 days although some have been known to survive a little longer. The adults don't overwinter so will eventually die. Most don't survive long enough though to complete their lifespan as they are heavily predated by birds, spiders and other insects.

    They are very common throughout Europe and the caterpillars do a lot of damage to brassica vegetables. I'm afraid they're not many gardeners favourite butterflies by any means. :(

    Don't feel too bad about your Small White - it would have died in the wild anyway as the temperatures dropped.

    Small White butterflies take nectar from a very wide array of plants which include buddleia, mustard, dandelion, red clover, aster and mint.

    Butterflies use a variety of food sources to sustain them, including such tasty delights as over-ripe fruit and rotting vegetation. :rolleyes:
    The alternative food source for butterflies is a homemade feeder filled with a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar - just as you have done. :)

    This is what I find to be the best way to prepare this:-
    Boil the solution for several minutes until sugar is dissolved, and then let cool.
    Serve the solution in a shallow container with an absorbent material such as paper towels saturated with the sugar solution.
    Bright yellow and orange (these colours seem to attract butterflies the most) kitchen scouring pads can be put in the solution to attract your butterfly and give it a resting place while it drinks. Extra solution can be stored in your refrigerator and kept for up to a week.
    Good luck with your little friend. She's certainly going to have an easy life whilst she's in your care.

    I hope I haven't bored you with too many facts Bradders. I do tend to witter on a bit I'm afraid as wildlife is a favourite subject of mine. :oops:
     
    Frank and Droopy like this.
  14. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi Eileen,

    You certainly haven't bored me. I love animals and as a child, in the summer holidays I used to collect caterpillars, feed them up and release them as butterflies, so finding the little caterpillar on my front door took me back 20 years!

    Thanks for the feeding advice too, she has been enjoying the fresh apple more than the sugar water I think.. I also managed to find some dandelions earlier whilst walking my dog, so I have popped them in her home too, although I am yet to see her feed on them.

    I have also just posted on Facebook, asking if anyone has a fish tank they can loan me, at least that way she can spread her wings a bit in something larger! Would be nice to see her flutter a bit more.

    I love wildlife and animals in general too! :)

    I will keep you posted on Paula's* progress.

    (*She was named Paul originally, after Paul McCartney, from his time with WINGS! LOL! But SHE is now a Paula! Hehe!)
     
  15. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    3,695
    Likes Received:
    78
    Location:
    annapolis md
    I hope you'll keep writing about Paula and I wish you luck with her.
     
  16. bradders33

    bradders33 New Seed

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thank you! I will keep you updated.

    I am moving her to an a large empty aquarium tonight, so she can a bit of space to spread her little wings! :D
     

Share This Page