Rain showers my spirit
and waters my soul.
~Emily Logan Decens
Finally, today we are getting rain! Much, much, much needed rain!
And while I was outside enjoying it, I noticed a bunch of caterpillars on my parsley plants. What are these?! I once heard that caterpillers on dill and other herbs actually turn into butterflys. Hmmmm....I had to go and google this and here's what I found.
"It's the caterpillar of the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly. This butterfly is commonly seen in our gardens during summer. These caterpillars feed on plants in the parsley family. This includes parsley, Queen Ann's lace, carrots, celery and dill.
The adult lays eggs on these plants, which hatch into tiny dark colored caterpillars with a white band. These go through several stages of development. The mature caterpillar is about 2 inches long and is distinctive with a basic yellow-green color and black and yellow banding. This is the stage you are seeing on your parsley. An environmentally concerned herb gardener may then be confronted with a quandary about caterpillars on the parsley and dill. Do you destroy the caterpillar, or do you decide to sacrifice the parsley, knowing that you are adding to their numbers?
As with most choices, there may be a middle ground. Divide the parsley into "yours" and "theirs" and every few days relocate the caterpillars from yours to theirs. You might consider planting more parsley and dill next year. Your big, colorful caterpillar will develop into a pupa, a resting stage inside a protective covering, called a chrysalis. In summer, after about 10 days, the mature butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. In the fall, the pupa will remain in the protective shell over winter, emerging in the following spring. The adult butterflies are 3-4 inches across, black with either a band or row of yellow spots near the back of its wings. The female has a prominent iridescent blue band on the hind wing. They are a cause for stopping your watering and weed pulling and admiring their beauty."
I guess I'll be planting more parsley and dill next year! I'm looking forward to seeing the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly gracefully flitting to and fro around the garden.
Nature brings with it wonderful surprises.