Wednesday, July 31

Garden Pic Wednesday: Black Swallowtail Caterpillars!

I noticed my car's battery indicator on this morning, so decided not to go to the Y. We'll take it to a shop to determine the exact problem.

I'm pleased to say I've had numerous little "guests" munching
away on my parsley this week.
I have a pot of flat parsley on the patio and a clump of curly in the back garden bed that's been going to seed this year.
I actually saw the Black Swallowtail butterfly visiting my parsley a couple weeks ago and hoped she was leaving eggs.
She was a huge, healthy sized butterfly.
This morning I had 7 caterpillars. Two in the pot, five in the clump in the far back. I moved one of the 5 from the back to the patio pot, so they're 3 in it now. Since then the 4 in far back clump have vanished. Birds don't like 'em because they taste bad, so I can only assume they've all taken off to find a safe place to cocoon.
Now I only have the 3 in the pot parsley and think they'll most likely disappear in the next day or so, too.
As you can see, my little friend is quite plump and healthy looking. He's about full sized.
 They were grazing, but are currently sleeping.
They eat, rest, poop, eat, rest, poop---like any other baby.


Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on Flat Parsley.

Last Sunday, I took my friend Megan out to view them and she exclaimed, "Why, they're beautiful," referring to their pretty striped and spotted pattern.  Perfect camouflage for blending into the parsley leaves, which are green with touches of yellow!

Really, that's why I grow parsley---for the butterflies.
Black Swallowtails like all the carrot family: Dill, Parsley, Fennel & Rue.
Butterflies only lay eggs on the host plants their young eat.
Parsley is an easy way to attract this fascinated insects.
But I've never managed to keep them around when they're ready to pupate and trying to keep a cocoon inside had only heart-breaking results. (The butterfly's wings didn't form correctly.) 
So now, I just let them do their thing outside.

Update: One of the caterpillars took off to locate a safe spot for his next stage. I got him onto a stick and put him at the base of a thick Japanese Privet shrub by the A/C unit, with little hope of seeing his cocoon. 
But, lo and behold, today (1 Aug) I was checking the shrub to see if I might get lucky and I did!
Here he is:
Tucked in, ready to transform. He's right on the outer edge of the shrub where I just have to pull back one small branch to check on him. The transformation process takes about 10 days.



Well, that's it for today! Check back for Mama Kat's prompt tomorrow!

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