Photo Life History: Everes amyntula
Habitat: Mountain Canyons
Suitable Lab Host Plants: Lathyrus odorata
Caring for Live Female Butterflies: Nectaring techniques
How to Hatch Eggs: Separate eggs individually
How to Find Caterpillars in the Field:
Caterpillar setups: The life history of the western tailed blue is somewhat unique as compared to other common North American blues. When first instars hatch, they burrow into the buds of the host and remain feeding within the bud or flower for up to two or three instars until they are forced to exit either because the bud is depleted or is no longer suitable. In the lab, I recommend using the twin cup method for early instars. Locate healthy, large, unopened buds of Lathyrus odorata (sweet pea) or other suitable Lathryus or Vicia that can remain usable for as long as possible and place hatchling first instars on the buds. This is important because if your host begins to deteriorate while your larva is still late first instar or early second instar, it is very difficult to dissect the host buds or flowers in search of young caterpillars without actually damaging them. Once your caterpillars become third instars, I recommend switching to the closed container method; switching out host cuttings and frass on a daily basis. (It is much easier to rear this butterfly when caterpillars are larger.)
Larva to Pupa: Larva Changes Color.
How to Find Pupae in the Field:
Number of Broods per Year: 1
Overwintering Stage: Mature Fifth Instar Larva
Overwintering Strategies: Your Own Backyard; Refrigerator. Click here to watch a video on a container I use to overwinter western tailed blues mature fifth instar larvae. Many larvae will avoid diapause in the lab and pupate. Once larvae pupate, they are committed to emerge immediately.
Post-Hibernation Strategies: Post-diapause mature fifth instar larvae should be exposed to warmer temperatures, long-day photoperiod and mist sprayed with water. They generally take a couple of weeks to pupate, and then about 10 days to emerge after that.
Disease Prevention: Change out host plant and remove frass every day when rearing third and fourth instars in a closed container; every three or four days when rearing larvae in a twin cup method setup. Larvae have adapted not to get sick in nature when feeding within the bud of host plant even though they are exposed to their own frass in a humid micro environment.
Emergence: Emergence Container
Field Notes: Special thanks to Jacque Wolfe who was a maverick in figuring out how to rear this butterfly. Also, thanks to Nicky Davis for following suit.