En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Yellow butterfly in Tennessee

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - August 19, 2009

From: Crossville, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Yellow butterfly in Tennessee
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Crossville Tenn and am seeing a butterfly that is yellow with a long hanging. What is it and what is it doing?

ANSWER:

Well, Mr. Smarty Plants knows a lot about native plants, but he is no expert on insects.  However, he can tell you that yellow butterflies in North America are in the Family Pierideae (whites and yellows) and are often called sulphurs.  There are lots of different species so there is no way I could tell you which of the sulphurs you saw.  Now, about the long hanging you saw—it could be the butterfly's proboscis, it's feeding structure that works sort of like a straw.  When the butterfly is not feeding, the proboscis is curled near the mouth.  You can see the proboscis curled and uncurled for feeding at this link.  Butterflies also have 6 legs that hang down and female butterflies use the ovipositor at the end of their long abdomen to lay eggs on host plants.  Other than these possibilities, I think I would need to see a photo to determine what the long hanging is and what the butterfly is doing.
 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Locating milkweed to feed larvae of Monarch butterfly
November 17, 2005 - A monarch butterfly on her way south, stopped and laid her eggs on a tropical milkweed. The larvae have hatched and now I want to insure their survival, but I only had 1 plant which they have strippe...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting butterfly weed in Hamden OH
July 10, 2009 - I have tried transplanting butterfly weed from it's native location to my yard and each time the plant wilts and dies. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Dead woody plants in wildlife garden in Austin
March 02, 2011 - I am an enthusiastic and pretty successful wildlife gardener, have studied my Wasowski "Bible", but I can't get any evergreens established in my yard! We live on blackland clay, which I amend with ...
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird and butterfly plants for Idaho
May 04, 2010 - I'm interested in planting a hummingbird and butterfly friendly garden. What do you suggest? I would like something that will rebloom every year and that has long lasting blooms or some different one...
view the full question and answer

Will Butterfly Plant Survive in Mansfield, Texas
January 06, 2012 - I have a butterfly plant that was very successful (about 4 feet tall) right up until the cold snap three weeks ago. I've read they have a tap root, so I'm hoping it will come back next spring. Mea...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center