Members of the Ries Lab are in Massachusetts to refresh our stock of Baltimore Checkerspots. This species, once common in the region, is now so rare in Maryland that it is considered imperiled statewide. One of the reasons these butterflies are doing so much better in Massachusetts is that some of the populations there have switched from using turtlehead (Chelone glabra) as a larval host to the much more common narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata).
Courtship and mating behaviors had been observed over the last week and today, despite the cooler indoor environment and limited sunlight, the first batches of eggs have been laid. The eggs were deposited on the underside of the leaves of turtlehead (Chelone glabra), their native host plant. Bright golden yellow when first laid, the eggs will turn a deep red over the next few days if they are fertile.
Our first generation of Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars are resuming activities. They overwintered as 4th instar larvae and are getting ready to complete development this spring.