protecting swallowtail cats

david883(5/6)June 30, 2014

Last year I had a ST cat chowing down on my dill I was growing in a re-purposed filing cabinet (removed drawers, tipped it on its back and filled with dirt). This year I grew a little more dill in there but also put a few in a small "butterfly garden in the making" to give them something to eat. Well, the cats are getting a little fatter these days and the dill is starting to bend as they get to the top. Two of them fell out of the filing cabinet today and onto the grass. It was PURE LUCK that I didn't step on the one. I was heart broken that a bird came by and got to them.
Anyway, I'm cutting the dill back a little so this hopefully doesn't happen again. I thought about moving them to the other, smaller dill plants in the garden but one has a bunch of little baby cats on it so I don't want food to get scarce over there. I'm also afraid the little bunny that has been frequenting my yard will harm them.
I also need to look up what other plants are hosts for these guys so I have more options as they eat all the dill. I know sometimes things can't be saved (that's nature) but if I can give them a little helping hand I want to.

So I guess what I'm asking for is... ideas. What has everyone done to protect them in some way? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks again!

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runmede(7a Virginia)

The large black swallowtails will not harm the small ones. I had a friend who watched one avoid egging an eggs.

Other host plant alternatives are: fennel, rue, carrots, queens Anne's lace, etc. This is not a complete list. Basically, almost everything in the carrot family.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 6:24PM
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One of them keeps trying to escape the file cabinet. Does this mean he's tired of eating dill and looking for something else? I read a few different host plants for these guys (black swallowtails) are parsley, dill, fennel and carrot. I can get a parsley plant or something for them but does anyone know any others? I also read wild ginger and Queen Anne's Lace (I think they're very pretty but can't they be invasive?). I just don't want the poor guys wandering off for more food and getting hurt or something.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 6:27PM
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glad2garden(5, Chicopee, Mass)

I have 6 swallowtail cats in a pot covered with netting. They all started moving around, sort of like they were on a mission, and 2 of them got out of the netting (found a hole). I put them back in and they seem to be trying to get to the top. Maybe they will be forming chrysalises soon. This is my first time at raising cats so I'm really clueless. But the netting has worked so fine that I hope to do this again. There's a busy little house wren that would surely have had them for dinner already.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 5:40PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

The cats that are on the move are probably fully grown and are looking for a safe place to hang themselves for their pupal stage. Most butterflies will try to find a spot away from the host plant. And they need a place that is sturdy, protected, and has enough space for their wings to expand and hang to dry when they emerge. Also, some of the Black Swallowtails won't emerge until next spring, so they need a place that will be safe through the wilds of winter.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:03AM
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