Thursday, August 8, 2013

Black Swallowtail

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Bugs are a normal part of the gardening process - but not one that I really enjoy.  A few weeks ago I went out to snip some parsley from where it is potted by the back steps, and I flicked off a couple of nasty looking grubs.  Yuck.  I haven't been paying much attention to that pot since, and today when I went out to get some parsley for another recipe, I found this big guy and his little brother:

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
When I showed the kids, Eli immediately thought they were Monarch Caterpillars.  We did some research online, and while the Monarch looks very similar to this, it doesn't eat parsley.  The Black Swallowtail, however, does!  Here's the part where I completely lost my mind.  After reading about these guys, and trying to match up what part in it's life cycle it's in, we determined that it must be close to forming a chrysalis.  So I suggested we bring them INSIDE.  Yep.  They're in a big glass pitcher with a bunch of parsley, just hanging out on the kitchen island.

They look like they're pretty slow moving at this point, so I'm hoping they won't escape.  The kids are super excited to watch the process.  I will apparently have a few hours after they emerge before they are able to fly to get them outside.  


  1. Good for you, Mom. That is how they learn and overcome any fears they may have by not showing your fear or loathing. Your children are blessed.

  2. do they eat dill too? I too was not sure what they were

  3. They do eat dill! Apparently, they are attracted to carrots, parsley, dill, fennel, Queen Anne's Lace, and rue. As I read online, I've seen a lot of people recommending planting extra of these plants for the pure purpose of attracting this butterfly. I found this article really helpful:

    The big one we brought in went into pre-pupa stage already and is completely immobile and attached to a stick. The other one is still devouring parsley at an alarming rate.