Every year I plant something for the birds in my vegetable garden. This year it was scarlet runner beans. Last year, and many years before it was sunflowers. I love the fact that they always find what has been planted and visit the same time every day to eat their fill.
This year I have unexpected guests, and they are eating my dill. Had I known they were going to visit I would have planted more, I’m not adverse to sharing.
I originally thought this was the caterpillar for a Monarch Butterfly but after doing a little digging sister Sue pointed out it was missing the telltale black horns. It’s a Black Swallowtail caterpillar. Once I looked them both up I have to say that this caterpillar is much more showy. I love the symmetry in nature. How even the stripes and yellow dots are on its body. I am amazed at how they will metamorphose into something that looks so completely different from what it is now.
The Black Swallowtail caterpillar is also known as the Parsley worm due to their affinity for everything in the parsley family. Dill, parsley, cilantro, fennel, they love them all. These caterpillars go through 4 molts of their exoskeleton before it builds a chrysalis. These caterpillars are in their 4th stage. As they grow their small yellow dots turn more into yellow ovals. I fully expect them to be gone soon, they will be spinning a cocoon on some stronger branch. In about two weeks they will be beautiful butterflies.
When they emerge from their cocoons they will look like this –
How amazing is that? We always have a lot of these butterflies around the yard. They are beneficial pollinators so I don’t really mind sacrificing the dill for the butterflies (although all of the pickle eaters in my family might disagree). Next year I will plan on planting more dill, parsley and cilantro in a different garden to see if they will concentrate somewhere else. Or I will just plant a lot more so we can share.
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