I went out looking for more female Papilio canadensis butterflies yesterday. Once again, Isa was helping me. We did not see many Swallowtails, but we did catch 2 females. Neither female was flying in what I characterized earlier as a flight pattern typical of a female. Both were flying rapidly along flyways. I brought the butterflies back to my field station and sleeved them over the live host plant – the same as I did for the first female. When I checked them today I had both good and bad news.
Bad news: One female had been swarmed and killed by ants.
Although I had been spot spraying Raid™ insecticide on all anthills in and around my set-up, it has proved largely ineffective. I have now taken more aggressive steps. I picked up some Diatomaceous earth and have spread it on anthills and under my host plants. Hopefully this does the trick.
Good news: The other female laid 7 eggs! This is great as I was starting to worry that I was doing something wrong even though my set-up seemed to work well with the first female.
Also the caterpillars are starting to get much larger now. Some - but not all – have also turned green even though they are still very small and otherwise have the bird-dropping colouration (i.e. a white saddle in the middle body segments). It looks like we may be seeing the beginnings of some eyespots as well on a few of them.