Limenitis astyanax astyanax

Limenitis astyanax astyanax

Photo Life History: Limenitis astyanax astyanax

Habitat:  Valley Lakes & Rivers; Forest edges; Power and Gas line right-of-ways; Urban-Suburban (if near previous habitats)

Host Plants:  Prunus serotina; Salix exigua; Salix spp.

Suitable Lab Host Plants: Any convenient willows, cottonwoods, aspens, or cherries.

How to Find Female Butterflies:  Click here(L. astyanax females can be found in the same habitat as the males; but can be more difficult to find as they fly in a more generalized area looking for host plants.  Sometimes they can be more numerous in the fall.  I even noticed a few females cruising across Maryland's Capital Beltway.)

How to Care for Live Female Butterflies:  Nectaring techniques

Methods of Female Oviposition:  High Humidity Cages; expose caged females to filtered sunlight.  Potted Plant Sleeves.  (Misting spraying sleeves with water a few times can affect females to lay more eggs.)

How to Find Eggs: Look on tips of leaves

How to Hatch Eggs:  Keep egg on original leaf.  Keep humid!

How to Find Caterpillars in the Field: Look for openings or right-of-ways in wooded areas and/or near water courses.  Try to locate isolated host plants; focusing on young instar perches on tips of leaves.  Also, larval hibernacula can be visually conspicuous. Watch this video.

Caterpillar setups:  Semi-closed terrariums; Potted plant

Larva to Pupa:  Caterpillar silks to leaf or twig; creates and attaches cremaster; hanging as a J before pupating.

How to Find Pupae in the Field: 

Number of Broods per Year:  2-4; depending upon location.

Overwintering Stage:  Third instar in hibernaculum

Overwintering Strategies: Alpine Overwintering Technique (Whatever technique you use, make sure hibernacula are exposed to consistent humidity and airflow.)

Post-Hibernation Strategies:  Well documented with this link-->Post-diapause Limenitis third instar caterpillars.

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  Expose second instar larvae to 24 hours of light!  See writeup in field notes.

Disease Prevention:  Change out host plant and remove frass every five days. 

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Field Notes:  Most Limenitis that are reared with a 24 hour photoperiod will not diapause. Freshly molted 2nd instars are especially sensitive to monitoring photoperiod. First instars do not. In habitats where the hosts are scattered or confined, ova and small larvae can be collected. During the late fall or winter, when most of the leaves have fallen, it is not too difficult to spot hibernacula. As is true with other Limenitis species, females oviposit well in a cage with high humidity and/or exposed to filtered sunlight.  In the Eastern U.S., once you understand the principles of raising viceroys, it will not be difficult for you to rear red spotted purples and vice versa.  If you live in the Western U.S., once you've mastered how to rear lorquin's admirals, it won't be difficult for you to rear other Limenitis, etc.