Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Cycle is Complete

Almost a month ago I spotted a beautiful butterfly in my garden.  This week I saw the results of the butterfly's hard work.  In among the dill.

and the Flat Leaf Parsley

were caterpillars.  All in different states of growth from very small

some were taking their clothes off

to big and fat

It seems the garden is now supporting the whole life cycle of a Black Swallowtail Butterfly!


  1. Great garden for the butterflies!! Hope you have a lot of new butterflies next summer!!

  2. I have never had caterpillars in my garden. I find them at the farm, but I would not mind a few munching on a plant or two, if they grew up to be pretty butterflies that is. I found one at the farm eating a zucchini. And you should see how much he ate. No wonder they are fat. I really like your image of the one on the dill. What a balancing act for the chunky caterpillar.

  3. If you plant it they will come. Isn't it amazing how they find your garden? You put in the right plants and one day, there they are!

  4. One of my favorite catts, the black swallowtail. Lovely shots of them!


  5. Hi Marguerite, I have never been lucky enough to find any Black Swallowtail caterpillars in my garden. It will be interesting to watch their magical transformation into butterflies. Have a great weekend!

  6. Must check my garden!! How exciting for nurturing children, great satisfaction.

  7. Congratulations! How fun to have a family of butterflies-to-be!

  8. Janet - It's so late in the season now I suspect the caterpillars will simply make cocoons after this and hole up for the winter. Hopefully we'll see many more lovely butterflies come spring.

    Donna - It's a bit unreal how much they can eat. The leaves on the parsley are disappearing quickly. The good news is I planted the parsley strictly for them. I haven't eaten a leaf myself this season so they are welcome to it.

    Laurrie - I've been wondering how these insects found my garden but one day I was downwind of the dill and caught a huge nose full of the scent. Now I think I understand.

    Frances - they are such bright looking little guys. I quite enjoyed searching for them in the foliage.

    Jennifer - I'm not sure what I did right but I'm guessing leaving the meadow unmowed probably made a difference for these insects. In combination with some host plants I seem to have created some good conditions.

    Brenda - check plants in the carrot family. I planted dill and parsley purposefully for these butterflies after they munched all my carrots last year.

    Holley - I hope they stick around my yard. I would really like to see these beauties in the spring.

  9. Love them!!! They are so cute. I showed my hubby your pictures and he liked them. I think next year maybe I'll try planting dome dill. Living in town I doubt I would see any butterflies but it's nice to think so.

  10. Congrats. Keep those babies happy until it is safe enough for them to come and visit Texas again. Not many butterflies here these days due to the smoke in the air.

  11. The more dill you plant, the more they will come.
    They seem to really love dill and flat leaf parsley which I didn't know.
    They are very beautiful as caterpillars but as butterflies I think they are gorgeous.
    The birds may find a few but that's natures way.

  12. the comments about how much they eat made me think of The Hungry Caterpillar book for children :o)

    other creatures have different abilities to us and apparently some flying creatures can smell from a very long way off,

    you have a true wildlife garden and how exciting to see the results, Frances

  13. I love that phrase 'taking their clothes off'. I guess that is exactly what they are doing. How lucky you are to have so many caterpillars in your garden...proof you're doing something right.

  14. Congratulations! This is what it is all about. Great photos of the instar stages!

  15. Hooray!!! Occasionally, my caterpillars get lost and wander around my patio. It's really weird. My daughter and I go on rescue patrols to stick them back in the rue/parsley/carrots. Great pictures!! :o)

  16. I just love this - completing the life cycle of the Swallowtail - you have made an impact already on your natural surroundings. I think allowing your meadow to go back to its original state was a great AND labour-free idea - now you are reaping the rewards!

  17. Talk about "If you plant them they will come"!! Lovely photos, and aren't they chubby! Its a wonder they don't break the dill.

  18. Oh wonderful! We brought in about 20 this year, and some are waiting in an aquarium on the deck for when they come out in spring. We also raised 100 monarchs. So much fun!

  19. Johanna - All it takes is a few flowers and a host plant in the carrot family. I'm sure if you plant them they will come. Butterflies aren't limited to the country.

    Tufa - I hadn't thought of it but yes, that smoke must be wreaking havoc on the insect population. Covering all the plants, and everybody's lungs, with smoke and dust.

    Witch - Some people have said they have better luck with curley parsley but I didn't know that until after I planted. They seem to do doing quite okay with the flat leaf. I have just a small patch this year but next I think I'll double the size and of course keep the flowers coming.

    Frances - an insects sense of smell must be very strong because I can smell the dill now that it's blooming but when these eggs were laid a month ago there wasn't much smell at all (to me anyway). To find these few plants in such a large landscape must take a very sensitive nose.

    Debbie - LOL, that's just what came to mind when I saw the skin laying there. Like someone had taken off their jacket and tossed it on the floor.

    Karin - I got very lucky with those photos. Although I thought the eggs were all laid around the same time maybe it was longer. These different stages were all shot on the same plants within a day of each other.

  20. Tammy - I wondered if they ever wandered at all! Mine always seem to be stationary. I can almost tell which stem to look at when I go to check on them.

    Jane - hee hee, you've hit on a big idea for me, Labour Free. The rest of the place requires so much work it was nice to just let the back section go wild and know that ultimately it was better for nature anyway.

    Janet - Are they ever chubby. I didn't realize quite how big they got. The stems sway under their weight.

    Benjamin - wow, that's a great amount of caterpillars. I wondered about putting them in a safe place for winter, never would have thought of an aquarium, nifty idea.

  21. Marguerite I know you are going to be as curious as I am to see what will happen with my madam butterfly in waiting .. in the fridge .. next to the beer ! LOL
    Fingers crossed !