Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shall I Let Them Stay?

There is a price to be paid for the beauty of the swallowtails who have so gracefully flitted through the garden these last several weeks.
The plant of choice for nourishing the larvae of the eastern swallowtail is parsley.
I haven't a very large clump of parsley this year--one can use only so much.
There were 5 or 6 of the caterpillars in various sizes spotted on the parsley this afternoon.
They eat voraciously until they enter the pupal stage.
I don't really have to think about this--its not as though one can re-locate them with an explanation that their accomodations are threatening my harvest.
Parsley is a "cut-and come-again" crop.
Hmmm--if I shear the descimated and devoured plant to the ground, what happens to the tidy green case that protects next seasons' butterfly?
A bit more informational reading is in order.

Its odd how we notice things--without really knowing that we do.
I'm only just realizing that there are fewer of the adult butterflies hovering over the zinnias or feeding on the cropped-back monarda.  Fewer than in the past weeks, as the season rushes on.
I think I can spare the parsley.


  1. Parsley? --it's always an afterthought for me. The swallow tales give much more satisfaction. We used to have a caterpillar that would literally strip any willow trees of greenery, and the butterfly was not very pretty either. These caterpillars would march from one yard to the next right across our driveway. The result? No willows in our street -- or nearby.

  2. Chris; Your description of the willow eater reminds me of what we called "tent caterpillars"--ugly things that stripped the leaves from trees of all kinds, dropped on one's head, crawled on window screens.
    I'm finding the striped swallowtail larvae to be way more desirable than potato bugs and bean beetles!

  3. The caterpillar as nearly as beautiful as the grown up butterfly! I don't blame you for sacrificing the parsley - I would too.

  4. I would let the caterpillars have the parsley, because what they become are 'flying flowers' and those are priceless.

    Next year you can plant more parsley, for you and them.

    Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

  5. Go on ..let those beautiful creatures have a feast... and think of what even more beautiful creature will result from your sacrifice. Put some in a pot next year and then protect it during the worst 'chomping' times ...maybe in the porch or kitchen...unless the cats like it

  6. Fabulous photo's and an interesting wee post once again MM...

  7. My resident caterpillar/butterfly man says to cut the stem above and below the pupa put a pin through the top and pin it in a better location. He usually relocates them to a tree or fence.
    He has a screen cage that he frequently puts caterpillars in until they papate.

  8. Just stopped by from Flower
    Lady's blog to say hello and
    tell you that I love all the
    photos of your beautiful cats!!
    I only have two but would love
    to have as many as you.
    Your blog is so welcoming.

  9. I'm glad you decided to let them stay! I have black swallowtails here...not sure what their caterpillars ate, but the adult butterflies love the apples that have fallen from my tree. I think they are drinking the liquid from the squashed fruit.

  10. Sandy: Thank you for visiting and leaving such a friendly coment.
    QC; Your comment creates a mental picture of inebriated butterflies woozy on fermented cider!

    All of you "regulars" are an encouragement to me to keep writing--thank you!