Need advice about my Common Buckeye chrysalises

Dear Mr. Floyd,
I am not sure how I can ask a question of Mr. Clyde Kessler in response to his Oct. 15 blog posting, 2010: Year of the Common Buckeye.
I read in his posting that you too are familiar with this butterfly species. May I please ask some questions which perhaps you or Mr. Kessler can answer?
Because of their great numbers this summer, I “discovered” the Buckeye life cycle ALL OVER our rural property. They were even pupating on car tires, door, and window jambs which I needed to close. I could no longer abide the repeated sight of stink bugs sucking from the chrysalises (under my nose) so I have reared caterpillars and chrysalises (in separate containers) indoors for weeks now. I am distraught to learn that Buckeyes cannot overwinter here in any life cycle stage!!! I live in Bedford County, Virginia. What should I do with the 10 chrysalises I still have on hand, 3 indoors, 7 outdoors…all in containers? The two nights we experienced frost here I brought the 7 outdoor chrysalises inside for the night. I am concerned if they mature and emerge they will not be able to 1. fly to migrate, 2. will encounter freezing night temperatures on the way. Is there a way to suspend the maturation of these 10 by keeping them in my frig until spring? What do you suggest I do with them?
Thank you for your time and ANY advice/suggestions you have to offer.
-Debra

7 thoughts on “Need advice about my Common Buckeye chrysalises

  1. Devin S. Floyd says:

    Could it be that widespread frost death is woven into the evolutionary texture of this animal. This might be one of the many reasons for its high population numbers. It reminds me of the race for survival and strategies involved for the monarch. My brother saw a big heap of monarchs gathered in layers and droops in a walnut tree about a month ago…up in the chilly Blue Ridge. They do that layering thing to conserve heat, I suppose. The hundreds become one organism, and if frost hits the organism can shed its outer skin and move on when the temperatures rise again. I suspect the buckeye is in a similar race southward, and that the sheer numbers help the species get there, despite leaving a trail of dead eggs, caterpillars, pupae and butterflies.
    I'm hypothesizing of course, and I'm no expert.
    So, what to do with what you've got?
    That's a great question. I think it's an opportunity to enjoy the animals personally, through observing what happens when they are kept indoors (replicating Floridian climate), in which case, be prepared for butterflies…and nectar needs. … a butterfly "cage" and some potted plants?

  2. Donna Watkins says:

    That sure confirms my wondering about whether this year provided a lot more Common Buckeyes than previous here in VA since we saw so many of them everywhere we went. Very interesting comment too!!!

  3. Debra says:

    Thank you, I do understand the wisdom of your comments. Had I realized Common Buckeyes could not overwinter in any life cycle stage here, Forest, Virginia (Bedford County), I would have stopped "saving" them from the stink bugs sooner(guilty sigh). I thought I read on the internet they could overwinter as an adult/butterfly via diapause. I had a nagging feeling to keep searching the net for confirmation and this is how I found the Blue Ridge Discovery Center's Ridge and Valley blog through Google. I thank both you, Mr. Floyd, and Mr. Clyde Kessler for better educating me. I think I will get several butterfly cages and share this Uncommonly beautiful butterfly with nature and humane society friends. I would rather separate them so I do not end up with winter breeding. I know I cannot improve upon God's natural process and I have interfered enough already. Thank you so very much for your reply.

  4. Devin says:

    Well, some of the stinkbugs (brown marmorated ) are non-native invasive species. Their population numbers are going bonkers. Without humans bringing those to America to begin with (2003?), less buckeyes would be getting eatin. So, I would not feel too guilty. You are human. We have interests as humans. One of these is observing animals. I say enjoy them! And share with those you love.

  5. Mona says:

    Adult buckeyes do a partial migration south. I saw them in mid September harassing Monarchs fly along the Chesapeake Bay and have also seen them in MD and VA along the east coast. The Buckeyes and Monarchs were accompanied by Variegated Fritillaires, American Ladies, and Cloudless Sulphurs.

    In the North Buckeyes do not winter over in any stage. Those that can make it, migrate south. I checked, "Butterflies of North America, A Natural History and Field Guide", by Dr. James Scott. He said that perhaps they winter over in the south and perhaps no diapause.

    I've actually had someone who was traveling to Virginia Beach take Monarchs with them to release them there and have also mailed them to VA Beach. VA Beach usually does not get heavy frost in the winter so Monarchs and other butterflies maybe able to survive the winter there.

    Mona Miller
    Herndon, VA

  6. devin says:

    For the record, I saw a monarch and a buckeye yesterday. I wonder how far into November we'll get em?
    I'll be certain to report my last sighting of the season.

  7. Devin S. Floyd says:

    I saw a buckeye today! Wow! We've seen a few nights in a row of freezing temperatures.
    Other butterflies observed were the cabbage white and the sachem skipper. It was a warm day.
    Devin

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