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Spedalist Breeder and Judge of Poultry, Pigeons, and Cage Birds; Judge at the Grand International Show, Crystal Palace ; Membre Socicte des Aviculteurs Francais; Vice-president Poultry Club ; Hon. sec. Yokohama Club; on the Co?nmittee of Middlesex Cohumbcricn Society,
Indian Game Club, etc.
How to Obtain Specimens of Butterflies - The Best Cages and Food for the Caterpillars - Moulting Processes - The Chrysalis Stage - Four Brilliant Specimens of British Butterflies - Their Markings
Who does not stop and admire the gay and fairy-like butterfly as it flies from flower to flower on a bright summer day ? Truly it is an emblem of brightness, joy, and happiness.
It is an interesting hobby to breed and keep butterflies as pets, and there are, no doubt, many women who would like to have some of these lovely insects flying about in their greenhouses amongst the flowers.
There are many ways of getting butterflies. We can obtain the eggs either by seeking for them on the leaves of plants and trees, or they can be purchased from dealers in natural history specimens, or through advertisements in papers connected with these subjects ; or we may be fortunate enough to capture a female butterfly and keep it alive in one of our glass cases, where it will lay its eggs.
Another way, and perhaps a more successful one, is to look for the larvae, or caterpillars, feeding on the leaves of plants or trees during the summer months. Caterpillars can also be purchased from the same sources as mentioned in respect to the eggs.
When capturing caterpillars be sure to take a note of the kind of plant or tree that they are feeding upon, and gather a supply of the leaves for their food while in captivity. A cardboard box with some holes in the sides made by a pin is a very useful appliance for taking the caterpillars home in.
Let us consider the whole of the processes, starting from the eggs. These hatch out without any assistance as regards heat, and the young caterpillars at first are very small, but soon commence eating. Some vaiieties start by eating the shells of the eggs. Having ascertained the variety of caterpillar, we must get a supply of the right kind of leaves to feed them on, for each variety has its own particular fancy as to food. Some caterpillars will eat the leaves of two or three different plants or trees, whilst others will take only the leaves of their own particular plant.
A case for breeding butterflies. The sides and top (A A A) are made of perforated zinc and the back (B) of glass. The top floor (C) is raised five inches above the lower (D) and in the middle of it is a hole through which can pass the stalks of plants standing in a vessel of water below
The eggs of butterflies are laid on the leaves of the food plant of the caterpillar, so that the female butterfly and moth must know what kind of food the caterpillar which will hatch from the egg she lays will require.
To breed butterflies successfully some suitable cases for rearing the caterpillars will be needed. A reference to the accompanying illustrations will explain the best kind for the purpose. The sides and top should be made of fine perforated zinc, the back and front being of glass. The latter should be made to slide up and down to act as a door to enable one to feed and attend to the insects. There should be a double floor, the top one being about five inches above the lower one. In the centre of the top floor it will be necessary to bore a hole, or four or five small holes, through which the stalks of the food plants will pass into a vessel of water placed underneath ; this keeps the leaves alive and fresh for the caterpillars to feed upon. When the caterpillars are very small it is advisable to pad the holes round the stalks with some cotton-wool, otherwise a number of the little caterpillars may be drowned.
It will be necessary to change the food every morning, and when the caterpillars have grown large and are almost fully developed two or three changes a day will be necessary. When putting in the fresh leaves do not take the caterpillars off the old food, but take the old leaves out of the holes with the caterpillars on them and lay them down on the top floor, and put the fresh food through the holes in the floor. You will find the caterpillars will soon leave the old food and walk on to the fresh supply. Should, however, some remain on the old food, and this happens when they are very young, they should not be picked off with the fingers (which is very likely to cause injury to the caterpillar), but be carefully lifted to the fresh food with a small camel-hair paint-brush.
The sliding glass should fit closely ; there must be no holes in the case through which the caterpillars could escape. Some larvae are very fond of wandering, and if there is a place where they can get out they will be sure to find it.
We will presume that the correct food for the caterpillars under observation is stinging nettles, and that they are thriving and doing well under our care. Some days we shall notice that some of them are not eating; this will occur when they are about to change their skin. This moulting process takes place about four or five times during their existence as caterpillars. The caterpillar grows, and eventual 1 y the skin becomes too small for it, so it lies quiet for a time and then emerges from the old skin, having now a new and larger one, which is often of a more brilliant colour than the former one. Shortly after changing its skin, it will recover its activity and strength, and possess a big appetite, and will continue to eat until the process has to be gone through again. This is repeated until it is fully fed, when it retires to a corner or suspends itself from a leaf or twig, and gradually turns into a chrysalis, the colours and shape of the full-grown caterpillar completely disappearing. It will be finally found hanging from its support fastened by a silken thread.
The period that it remains in this state varies according to the species of the butterfly or moth.
The caterpillars which we have under consideration will emerge from the chrysalis about August, and what a truly wonderful sight we shall see! Such a blending of colours, such brilliancy and sparkle ! The longer we look the more interested we become in this lovely creature with its dark, rich black wings, which, when opened out, show us a harmony of brilliant red and bluish black of the appearance of velvet. The effect of the scarlet bands on the dark velvet background, with the pure white spots towards the end of the two top wings, is a sight that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. This is the Red Admiral butterfly, known to naturalists as Pyram:ii atalanta, and although one of the most beautiful, it is fairly common.
Some beautiful examples of British butterflies, which may be bred and kept in a conservatory. 1. Painted Lady butterfly; 2. Small Tortoiseshell butterfly ; 3. Peacock butterlly : 4. Red Admiral butterfly
Another very pretty butterfly, which is also often met with, is the small tortoiseshell butterfly (Vanessa urticae), the caterpillars of which also feed on the stinging nettle. Although not so brilliant a butterfly or so large as the Red Admiral, it has a beauty quite its own, and is altogether a very happy and lively insect, and one that repays attention.
The small tortoiseshell butterfly has been taken in every month of the year, for one or two have been seen on the wing at Christmas when the weather was mild and the sun shining. The specimens thus occasionally met with at such a time of year are those that have been hibernating since the summer, and it is really astonishing how bright and fresh looking the colours of these hibernating specimens are ; in fact, one might think that they had just emerged from the chrysalis, instead of having been suspended in some quiet corner without moving for months.
Another very gorgeous and brilliant butterfly is the Peacock (Vanessa io). It derives its name from the markings on the wings, which resemble the eye markings on the tail feathers of a peacock.
The colouring of this butterfly is unique. The markings on both sides of the wings are very wonderful, and quite a study in themselves. It is a very attractive specimen, and one that always receives a large amount of praise and special notice when shown in a collection of British butterflies.
The smallest butterfly illustrated is another choice and elegant specimen, known as the Painted Lady (Pyrameis cardui). This is one of the butterflies which in some years are plentiful, and then for a time quite scarce, only a solitary specimen or so beinf met with. They fly very quickly, and one needs to be smart to catch them. A peculiarity of this insect is that, wher struck at with the butterfly-net and missed, it will fly a short distance and then come back again, as though giving the collectoi another chance to catch it, while other butterflies when struck at and missed would fly right away.
The four varieties of British butterflies to which reference has been made are very effective, great favourites, and fairly easy to obtain. They are, therefore, very Suitable varieties with which to commence the hobby of keeping butterflies as pets.
It would be difficult to imagine a prettier or more fascinating hobby for either an entomologist or a lover of Nature than a collection of living butterflies as here described. It is capable of being extended almost indefinitely so as to include both British and foreign varieties, but even in its more limited extent, it is a source of constant delight and enlightenment.
As a means of instructing and edifying children, it is also most useful. It entails care, but little expense, and no large amount of space or expenditure of money is necessary. It will unfold to the young some of the many mysteries and beauties of life under the aspect of Nature study.
The following is a good firm for supplying Foods, etc., mentioned in this Section: Messrs. Molassine Co., Ltd. (Dog Froods).
Cases such as that shown in section in the first illustration are delightful additions to the beauty of a conservatory when filled with multi-coloured butterflies
A maker of the "Old Bucks Point" lace at work, placing a pin into the parchment pattern. The picture shows also the hanging bunch of bobbins, and the old oak horse against which the lace pillow is rested.
Photo : Art Illustration and Reproduction Co. By Dr. Habberton Lulkam