Swallowtail Setbacks

An extraordinary post by one of my favorite bloggers.

Rae Spencer

Swallowtail July 9

After last summer’s monarch success, I was eager to attract more butterflies to the yard. My sister-in-law frequently sees Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the dill she grows in her garden, so I planted a basket of dill this spring. A bit of online research convinced me to plant fennel and parsley, too.

Swallowtail July 9

Soon there were eggs.

Eggs June 6

Then there were caterpillars.

Eggs June 7Eggs June 7

Dozens of caterpillars.

Eggs June 7Dill July 14Parsley July 14

And then the caterpillars began disappearing.

The yard has many caterpillar predators, but I suspect the house wrens were responsible for most of the swallowtail disappearances. I don’t believe any of summer’s early caterpillars survived, though new eggs constantly dotted the parsley leaves.

Parsley July 6

In late June, the caterpillars molted through four instar stages before the predators found them.

Parsley July 13Parsley July 13Parsley July 16Parsley July 16Parsley July 16

One evening I counted twenty-one caterpillars on the parsley. The next morning, all but one were gone. I spent half the day arguing with myself, debating the wisdom of…

View original post 482 more words


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s