Black Swallowtail Caterpillars ~ Round 4!

Yes, you read that right – round FOUR! It seems, as soon as my dill and parsley grow back, the butterflies lay more eggs. These critters have eaten more of my dill and parsley than I have. But I don’t mind. The plants grow back, and I like that my yard is a haven for making new butterflies. I must say, this is the largest batch yet. They ate my pot of dill, then attacked all three pots of parsley. I now have no more food for them. 😦  One of the good things about the number of them this time is that I was able to get some more great pictures as well as a couple videos.

As I share the pictures, I’ll tell you what day of this past weekend they were taken so you can see how quickly these little guys can mow down a parsley plant. You can also tell how many more eggs have hatched as you see the number of caterpillars increasing.

FRIDAY:

I found a couple of caterpillars on my flat parsley:

Black swallowtail caterpillars on flat parsley

Black swallowtail caterpillars on flat parsley

I found quite a few of them on my curly parsley – two pots on the opposite side of the patio as the one pot of flat parsley. (Click on the pictures to see them up close.)

Black swallowtail caterpillars on curly parsley

Black swallowtail caterpillars on curly parsley

More black swallowtail caterpillars on curly parsley

More black swallowtail caterpillars on curly parsley

SATURDAY:

When I went outside to check on these little guys, I was amazed at how many there were and how much they had eaten! One pot of curly parsley was completely gone, and they were literally jumping out of the pot to look for food.

Black swallowtail caterpillars on parsley stalks

Black swallowtail caterpillars on parsley stalks

Look at them trying to jump out and find food:

Black swallowtail caterpillars trying to jump out of the pot in search of food

Black swallowtail caterpillars trying to jump out of the pot in search of food

I found several caterpillars on my mulch and in my grass. Using a stick, I was able to get them into the pot that had more curly parsley, though. (Their suction cup feet are VERY sticky! It’s hard to get them to grasp something else, I tell you.)

Black swallowtail caterpillar in the grass, looking for food

Black swallowtail caterpillar in the grass, looking for food

SUNDAY:

On Sunday, I realized that my curly parsley was almost eaten. Because there were only a couple of caterpillars in my flat parsley, I moved that pot to where the other two pots were. Then I tried coaxing the caterpillars to move into the pot with food – rather than continue jumping into the mulch or grass. In fact, I found a couple of them on my rocoto pepper plant (which is next to the parsley pots). And yes, they were moved to the parsley pot.

Black swallowtail caterpillar on a rocoto pepper plant

Black swallowtail caterpillar on a rocoto pepper plant

While playing with the caterpillars, trying to get them to the food that was left, I discovered cocoons for the first time! At least, I believe they’re cocoons. There were two of them – one on the side of a pot and another within the parsley. (How I missed the parsley one, I have no idea.)

Empty black swallowtail cocoon on side of pot

Empty black swallowtail cocoon on side of pot

This one was empty, too, but it wasn’t in as good shape as the one on the pot.

Empty black swallowtail cocoon in parsley

Empty black swallowtail cocoon in parsley

This time, I was able to get a couple of short videos of these little guys. I don’t own a video camera (hey…Hanukkah gift idea to a certain someone reading this!), but I was able to get some decent video with my phone. Both videos were taken on Saturday.

This first video is of the caterpillars on the flat parsley. You can see how they walk. Take a look at their suction cup feet. It’s pretty cool.

In this next video, you can see them eating the curly parsley. (By the way, I have no idea how the video came out vertical instead of horizontal. But you can still see them munching away.)

It was surely a caterpillar weekend. Unfortunately, by Monday, all the parsley was gone and some of the caterpillars were still clinging to the stalks. I have no food left for them. Like my son, they ate me out of house and home!

Well, I hope they were able to eat enough to mature enough to become butterflies. I’d love to see more empty cocoons and beautiful black butterflies swooping around my garden.

(If you’re interested in seeing pictures from the first three rounds of caterpillars, here are the links: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3.)

 

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