Brown Longtail (Urbanus procne) life history
Brown Longtail (Urbanus procne) Life History

Egg, 11-3-22

Hatchling, 11-6-22

First instar, 11-8-22

Second instar, 11-11-22

Third instar in nest, 11-14-22

Third instar, 11-15-22

Fourth instar, 11-23-22

Fifth instar, 12-7-22

Pupa, 12-14-22  (not same individual as above)

Fresh female Brown Longtail, ventral view, 11-3-23

I was given a female Brown Longtail  by Richard Boscoe, who knew I wanted to raise the species. The butterfly arrived at noon; I had only time to put it in a netted container. By the time I returned in the evening, there were several eggs on the cage. I offered Guinea grass (Panicum maximum), and the next day there were several eggs on the grass, so I released the female. The eggs began hatching 4 days later.

The caterpillars laid a silk trail when they left their nests to feed, and followed it back when they returned. Most of the silk trail is visible in the photo of the second instar, which shows the caterpillar on its way back to the shelter.

The shelter in the second-instar picture is an anomaly. Usually, the caterpillars partially cut a leaf blade and then folded it back on itself at an obtuse angle, as shown in the succeeding photo. They rested with the head pointed to the fold. That habit did a decent job of hiding early instars, but later instars did not appear to be well-protected

Face of Brown Longtail

The head capsule had two knobs on it, almost as if it were starting to grow horns. The bodies turned brown at the fourth instar and remained that way until pupation. The caterpillars spun a very loose shelter of silk netting, inside of which they pupated. Prepupal caterpillars moved off the grass to the floor of the cage. I placed several in a pot  with loose dirt and leaves, still in the cage, but most of these again moved to the cage bottom. The one that stayed in the pot incorporated some of the detritus into its shelter, forming a well-disguised nest. I suspect this is what normally happens in the wild.

Most of the adults emerged about 2 months after the eggs were deposited.

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