Swallowtail Surprise

When I got home from vacation this past weekend, I was examining my herb transplants along my front walkway. Most of them are doing well. My oregano has died back, but there are new shoots coming up, so I think it will be okay. I did notice that my earlier transplants of fernleaf dill were dried and in full seed. I was planning to pull them…until I realized that Madam Butterfly left me a wonderful surprise!

A couple weeks ago, I had my first batch of Black Swallowtail caterpillars this season. (See Black Swallowtail Butterflies are Back!) They chomped on my curly parsley flowers, which I have in pots around my backyard patio. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them mature into full-sized caterpillars before leaving for vacation. When I got home, the parsley was empty. I was sad. But I know that somewhere, there are several chrysalises in which butterflies are being made.

I had no idea that I had more caterpillars in the front yard in my dried dill until I went to pull them. I saw two caterpillars, then noticed there were a total of TEN! I couldn’t pull the dill, nor did I want to harvest the seed. How could I take food away from these little guys? (I did sprinkle a few seeds nearby to start new plants though.)

Here are two of the bigger ones.

Black swallowtail caterpillars

Black swallowtail caterpillars on dried dill

These little guys were moving up and down the stalks, munching away.

Black swallowtail caterpillar

Black swallowtail caterpillars munching on dill seeds

There are three caterpillars in this picture. Can you find them?

Black swallowtail caterpillars

Black swallowtail caterpillars on dried dill

This guy kept moving every time I tried to take its picture.

Black swallowtail caterpillar

Black swallowtail caterpillar on dried dill.

Can you find four caterpillars in this picture?

Black swallowtail caterpillars

Black swallowtail caterpillars crawling on dried dill

I love knowing my garden is a haven for such beautiful creatures. I kind of feel like a Mama, raising another batch of butterflies.

Are you “raising” Black Swallowtail, Monarchs, or other butterflies in your garden?

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2 comments on “Swallowtail Surprise

    • One of my parsley plants was chewed to the nub, but I have a few new flowers coming up. Just no leaves. It’s funny looking! This new batch is chomping away at dried flowers and seeds. Every time I leave and come home, I check them to see how big they’re getting. Little cuties.

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