Got Dutchman’s pipevine?

Pipevine leaves and flower

Pipevine leaves and flower

If you have some Aristolochia macrophylla in your yard, I’m hoping you might want to share some tendrils with the pipevine swallowtail caterpillars that are rapidly depleting my plants.

Actually, I am rapidly depleting my pipevine plants to feed about 45 caterpillars. They were rescued as tiny orange eggs or hatchlings from baby praying mantises, spiders and wasps and put into aquariums. Left on the vines growing in the yard, the cats would vanish long before they grew big enough to pupate. And now they are hungry, chomping through leaves and stems, shedding their old skins and getting bigger. The bigger they get, the more they eat!

Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars on a pipevine leaf backlit by the sun

Caterpillars on pipevine

The caterpillars are coal black with orange spots and punk-looking spikes all over. With luck, they turn into swallowtails that are black with iridescent blue on their top wings, showing orange spots when the wings are folded. They look a good deal like red-spotted purples.

If you’d like to raise some of the caterpillars and watch them pupate, I’m happy to share. Or, if you can bring some pipevine to Wednesday’s meeting, the caterpillars and I will be very grateful!

Thank you,
Peggy Whetzel

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