Swallowtail caterpillars

shallot(7a)July 27, 2013

I went out to look at the herb patch this morning and we are inundated with swallowtail caterpillars! I am so pleased. We have had a few so far this season but today we had at least 15 swallowtails caterpillars of various sizes all on our three triple curled parsley plants.

We have been gently removing them from the single curled parsley and dill and placing them on the triple curled and they sure seem to like it.

I don't remember seeing any last year when we moved in so I feel like we are doing something right at last! We have had many other butterflies of different kinds, dragonflies, bees, five lined skinks, American toads and southern leopard frogs. It is so nice to see all the wildlife. I bought a book to help us identify all the animals.

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sorie6(6b ok.)

Oh lucky you! Can't wait to see pic of the BF.
I'll have to grow some parsley or dill next yr. tfs

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 1:46PM
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I wish i still had such good looking parsley. I've never had any swallowtail cats before this year, that I know of, but this summer I've had so many! They are in my dill and bronze fennel. I found a cocoon (chrysalis?) today too. I put my "sparrow spooker" in the fennel a couple of weeks ago to help scare away hungry birds.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 10:06PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Shallot, I think it is great that you have so many cats on your plants. Congrats!

It sounds like you have a nice, healthy ecosystem with all the little creatures you're seeing, and I think that is wonderful.

I always enjoying having the wild things around when we lived in the city, but it wasn't until we moved to the country that I started planting so many plants that are more for them than for us. We also are very careful to leave them some natural undisturbed habitat too. Dragonflies and damselflies are as much fun to watch as butterflies and moths. Until we moved here and I started watching them and trying to identify them, I never realized how many kinds there are.

We have lots of the various kinds of swallowtails here, normally from about May to October or sometimes November. Some years I'll see them as early as April if the weather warms up early. I always leave henbit growing in the yard or garden when it pops up because they visit its blooms nonstop all day long when it is in bloom. It fills an important niche in the ecosystem here because often it is in bloom as late as December or as early as January when little else is in bloom.

Because we have so many of the swallowtails every year, I always plant oodles of dill, fennel and parsley for them. No matter how many plants I put out there, eventually they all get eaten down to the ground. Sometimes, if the plant was large enough before they found it, it has enough strength to regrow really well from being eaten. I had lots of them on dill in May and June, but then I yanked out the dill in June and July as it matured and turned brown and haven't seen as many of them on the parsley and fennel. Still, the butterflies are all over, so clearly they are eating something. I just sowed more dill seeds for fall plants. Sometimes the butterfly-watching in September and October is even better than it is in July and August.

Betty, I am glad you are getting so many too, and I love the sparrow spooker.

It is a really great butterfly and moth year so far down here at our end of the state. Last year was good too, but the populations of some types were way down following that horrible drought year of 2011. I think at our place it looks like all the butterfly and moth populations are pretty much back to normal, except for the monarchs. I'm seeing some, but not nearly as many as I saw 3 or 4 years ago.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 12:34PM
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I don't have enough parsley to share with caterpillars, so when I find them, I snip off the piece they are chomping on and pitch it and the 'pillar on it over the fence. Once they have finished that piece, it's up to them to make do with some other bit of greenery.

*greedy Rike who wants ALL the parsley*

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 1:52PM
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Daughter, they ate all my parsley! None was left, when I got home.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 10:11PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

What???? Don't toss your black swallowtails!!! Call me, I'll rescue them :)

Plant fennel...then you can just move them over to the fennel.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Shallot...you got a much better photo than I did, but I found a bunch of swallowtails cats today too. I was excited because I had young kids coming over to see the garden.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:46PM
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