Black Swallowtail Butterflies are Back!

I’m so excited! The black swallowtail butterflies are back. Two years ago, I had one batch of caterpillars in my herb garden. Last year, I “raised” four batches of caterpillars on the potted dill and parsley around my patio. This year, I finally have my first family.

A couple of weeks ago or so, I found a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on my carrots as I was getting ready to harvest them. I moved it to my parsley, figuring it’d be happier there. After a few days, I didn’t see it anymore and figured it might have been eaten by a bird. However, I now think it became a butterfly on my parsley plant.

This weekend, I saw a beautiful Black Swallowtail butterfly on my curly parsley. It stayed on that plant for over two hours – that I know of. At first, I thought she was laying eggs on my plant. However, after I found this, I believe she was drying her wings so she could fly.

Black Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis

Black Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis

Here’s how I first saw the butterfly, around 10:00 in the morning.

Black Swallowtail butterfly - just out of its chrysalis?

Black Swallowtail butterfly – just out of its chrysalis?

I wondered why it didn’t fly away when I approached. I’m thinking it’s because it couldn’t fly yet.

Black Swallowtail butterfly on curly parsley

Black Swallowtail butterfly on curly parsley

It allowed me to take quite a few pictures as I watched it crawl up the parsley stems.

Black Swallowtail butterfly crawling up parsley stem

Black Swallowtail butterfly crawling up parsley stem

I also saw it stretch its wings out several times.

Black Swallowtail butterfly stretching its wings

Black Swallowtail butterfly stretching its wings

While taking pictures of the butterfly, I noticed a baby Black Swallowtail caterpillar nearby.

Black Swallowtail butterfly and baby caterpillar

Black Swallowtail butterfly and baby caterpillar

I knew that where there’s one caterpillar, there’s bound to be more. I found a total of four. Here they are closeup.

This little guy was eating the parsley flower.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating parsley flower

Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating parsley flower

I tried several times to get a good picture of this little guy because the wind kept blowing the stem. If you look closely in the picture I did get, you’ll see that the wind made him lose traction on the stem. See the little suction cup feet up in the air?? Don’t worry; he grabbed the stem again quickly.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar losing its grip on a parsley stem

Black Swallowtail caterpillar losing its grip on a parsley stem

Ah, this guy was the mover. He was crawling across one of the stems across the pot and over the Italian parsley pot. (I had moved the Italian parsley next to the curly parsley so the caterpillars would have more to eat.) This caterpillar wouldn’t stay still! Good thing there’s a pot of parsley beneath him, in case he falls.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar crawling down parsley stem

Black Swallowtail caterpillar crawling down parsley stem

Unlike his brother, this little guy never moved.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar sitting on parsley flower

Black Swallowtail caterpillar sitting on parsley flower

After doing some planting in my front yard, I went back to my patio around noon to see if the butterfly was still on my parsley. She was….just long enough to let me watch her fly away.

Black Swallowtail butterfly before flying off

Black Swallowtail butterfly before flying off

As she left the parsley, she did a few loops, fluttered, then flew off.

I’m hoping she’ll be back to lay her eggs when she’s ready. (Or maybe it’s a male and will find a mate to bring back to my yard.) Meanwhile, I have four babies to raise. 🙂

Do you get Black Swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars in your garden?

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2 comments on “Black Swallowtail Butterflies are Back!

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