Our state insect. The first brood will typically make it to chrysalis and eclose as an adult butterfly the same year.
This species is a bit more challenging than Anise Swallowtails, and should be kept in very clean and airy conditions. It is native to eastern Oregon, so a bit drier.
You will receive ten (10) Oregon Swallowtail Butterfly eggs per order
Eggs will hatch about 1 week after they are laid by the female.
We guarantee live eggs, and check for egg fertility before shipping (fertile eggs get a slight brown ring about 24 hours after laying)
Make sure that your mail arrives in a cool location, or that someone is there to meet them on arrival. (Eggs can cook in the sun, and we only refund if our reserve eggs don't hatch)
Caterpillars will need plenty of leaves to munch on after hatching. They will feed on anything in the parsley/carrot family of plants, and also Tarragon. Wild Tarragon, Culinary French Tarragon, and Russian Tarragon are all accepted by the larvae. In nature they feed on Wild Tarragon.
If you are purchasing parsley or tarragon from the store, make sure to WASH it repeatedly in clean water before offering to the caterpillars. Organic or conventionally grown does not matter. The pesticide used is the same (Bt). It can be removed from leaves with washing.
General Directions, with a lot of details :D
On receiving, put eggs into a small (2 cup or so) container and seal with lid. This will protect eggs from the dryness of inside air. Never put leaves into a sealed container with eggs.
Check container daily. Keep out of direct sunlight. Depending on indoor temperatures, eggs will take about 7 days to hatch after laying. So with shipping time added in, these will hatch fairly quickly.
After hatching, carefully move larvae individually with a soft paint brush onto cut leaves in a sealed container. Only a few leaves are needed for 10 larvae.
Caterpillars may wander for up to 24 hours before settling down to feed. This is normal. Just make sure you have the right food for them.
Vent container twice daily to make sure moisture doesn't build up.
Change leaves with fresh leaves every three days. Keeping things clean is super important.
When changing leaves, cut around the caterpillar on the leaf, and place the small cut out part with the caterpillar onto the fresh food in the new, clean container. The caterpillar will move when it's ready.
After the second larval skin shedding, it will help to keep disease down by moving caterpillars to cut plant in water (or live plants) in an airy cage. Because this is a desert species, high humidity in a sealed container with larger caterpillars dramatically increases risk of disease.
Keep this processes up until larvae walking around looking for a place to pupate. Expect larvae to clean out their digestive tract before this stage....this basically means a huge messy bowel movement rather than the dry star shape nuggets they normally create.
"Walkers" can be moved to a paper bag or a Pupation Pod (see attached pictures), which is just a half toilet paper roll with a square of toilet paper held over the top with a rubber band. Basically, they will create a silk pad to attach themselves to in a vertical or upside down position. From there they will make a silk girdle to rest against before shedding its shin a few days later.
Pupae may or may not hatch the same year, depending on light cycle. The first brood normally hatches right back out, and if raised inside this will probably happen. Later broods reared outside are either overwintering or split. Pupae that haven't eclosed after a month can be left in their popup tent, then into the fridge in around Thanksgiving (see overwintering blog post)
There are many resources and online groups to handle questions about caterpillars and care. Please use them if you need additional assistance.
We will do our best to reply to questions as time permits. Please be patient, as we're busy rearing large quantities of hungry caterpillars all season, and sometimes will be out collecting for days at a time too.