Naked fennel; fat caterpillars. ;-)

catbird(z7 AL)August 12, 2010

Every summer I have as many as 12 black swallowtail caterpillars of various sizes munching on my fennel at one time and I love having them. The adult swallowtails of all varieties feed on the butterfly bushes, but the caterpillars of the black species are the only ones I see on the fennel, which I grow just for them. The "flying flowers" are sometimes as pretty in the garden as the ones on stems. I never see cocoons, though. Never have done a real search for them, but I may this year just for fun.

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drippy(7bAL)

I check my fennel everyday for caterpillars, but so far, none. But I do have the swallowtails, and many other butterflies around. The butterflies in Alabama are amazing!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 8:34AM
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alabamanicole(7b)

I let the monarch larvae have my fennel; I didn't have the heart to pluck them off. They are even pretty as caterpillars. Then they moved to my parsley, but I have already harvested a lot of that for drying.

I am less entralled with the white fuzzy caterpillar eating my sweet potato leaves, perhaps because I can't figure out what it is.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 10:31AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You don't mean monarch caterpillars, do you, alabamanicole? It's usually the Black Swallowtail on parsley and fennel. But I know what you mean about so many of these insects....they are soooo pretty, or interesting, or scary looking....just plain cool!

Can you take a picture of your white, fuzzy caterpillar?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 2:50PM
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alabamanicole(7b)

I'll get a pic next time I seem him. Her. It. The fuzzy one. If it has survived, because I have lots of birds and it sure isn't camouflaged.

Yes, monarch caterpillars. These guys (see link). With the stripes instead of the dots, unless there are some swallowtails which have morphed into a striped pattern. I certainly have quite a few orange and black butterflies around but I don't know them well enough to positively ID the adults.

Come to think of it, that must be what that new pink bloom that I saw today popping up in my field must be -- milkweed. I'll have to trot out and take a look. Maybe when I bushhogged the field about 6 weeks ago, I took out some milkweed and the butterflies went looking for alternate hosts?

Here is a link that might be useful: Monarch Larva/Caterpillar

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 6:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You might want to take pictures of the monarch cats on the parsley and post them on the Butterfly Gardening Forum. It would certainly be a first for me, and I'll bet others as well.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 4:29PM
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alabamanicole(7b)

I haven't seen them in a few days. I just checked the parsley and fennel and they are gone (most of the plants, too!)

Perhaps next year.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 6:29PM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

Butterfly caterpillars don't spin cocoons - in fact, most moth caterpillars don't! Nor should you look for the pupas near the food plant - they usually travel 20 feet or more before settling down to pupate, Black Swallowtail pups look like shriveled leaves - some are green, some are brown and nobody knows why! Monarch pupas are green with gold dots, they look like a jewel pendant!

The most prominent cocoons are those of the silk moths. In the U.S., these become the huge moths you see on occasion. I found such a cocoon in some leaf litter in November 2008 - apparently it had been blown off its perch. I placed it inside in as cool a place as I could. In April 2009, a Luna moth emerged!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:01PM
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alabamanicole(7b)

There is a cocoon hanging on the fence about 12' away that is green with some gold on it, but it doesn't look like the ones I saw online for monarchs. I'm keeping an eye on it, but I can only check in the afternoon so I may not catch the main event.

Of course it may not belong to one of the caterpillars I am talking about. I've had all kinds of caterpillars *everywhere* this year.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 7:07AM
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browneyedsusan_gw(8a)

I've seen caterpillars like those in your link on my Asclepias tuberosa.
Susan

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 3:04PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The Monarch chrysalis is pretty identifiable and unique. Pretty jade color until the butterfly is getting ready to eclose, or unless a disease has infected the pupae.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 1:57PM
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fnboyd(z8 AL)

I have the Monarch caterpillars on my parsley like alabamanicole. I bet I had 15 of them and now I don't have a leaf left on the parsley but it was worth it just to see them enjoying it so much.

faye

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:06PM
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