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Swallowtail cats?

Posted by scorpgirl24 z7NJ (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 17, 11 at 10:41

I have counted 13 cats 1/4"-1/2" on a very spindly dill plant.
They are yellowish with black spots and a white stripe down the middle.
There are more eggs also.
Will this plant support all these cats?
I am not looking to intervene. This is the first time I have grown dill and anticipated either a nice dilled-lobster salad or some butterflies.
Of course, the cats won!
The plant is on my deck with some basil and cilantro.
What should I do? Stake the plant? Will all these cats survive? It seems like a meager food-source, once these cats get bigger. Will nature just take it's course and the larger ones win out?
Any help/ info is appreciated.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Swallowtail cats?

Those aren't swallowtail cats, Jo. Black swallowtails, which are the ones that use dill, are dark brown with a white 'saddle' in their early instars, then they molt into an orange, white and yellow instar, with them being a beautiful green, yellow and white in the final instar.
I don't know what your cats are, probably a moth, maybe sawflies.

RE: Swallowtail cats?

Thanks Misssherry.
Just realized (after google search) that they weren't swallowtails. I have so many flying around, I just assumed they were swallowtails.
Well, just looked again and they are gone!! Guess it was a hungry bird!
If they were moths, glad they are gone-although is my dill!!
Keep wondering if those gross hornworms will soon be eating my tomatoes.
Wish I could get some butterfly cats!!
I have the habitat, the host plants and the adult butterflies.
I'll keep looking!

RE: Swallowtail cats?

You know what...I think these were some kind of butterfly.
When you said saddle- I found a pic that looked similar.
When I said it had a stripe down the middle, I meant across the middle of the body-not lengthwise.
This pic was a black swallowtail-1st instar.
Anyway, where did these cats go? Do birds eat them?
I am sick that they are gone and that they WERE butterfly cats.
I took a very blurry pic, but will post it anyway.

RE: Swallowtail cats?

It does look like a black swallowtail - I've never seen one that could ever be described as yellow, so I didn't think that was what you had.
I'm sorry your cats disappeared. They were probably eaten by wasps or stinkbugs - that's why we raise ours in cages and release them as adults.
Here's an early instar cat, though not a hatchling -
Image hosted by
And here's a later instar-
Image hosted by
And here's two last instar cats - the green one is the regular color, the other is the dark form -
Image hosted by

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