Friday, July 29, 2011

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars and Carrots (Updated)

One of my favorite parts about having a home garden when I was little was finding Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the carrot leaves. This species of butterfly relies on plants from the parsley family as hosts, so you might also find them on parsley, dill, or fennel, but I remember them appearing most often on carrots. My family and I would watch carefully for these little creatures, protect them, and watch them grow and change into their adult forms. There are never enough of these little guys -- in my experience -- to do any real damage to the plants, and they're just awesome.

So last year, when I started my own garden, I had to make room for carrots. And as it turns out, not only do these plants give us delicious greens for our pet bunnies (they love them), and even a carrot or two (the ones the voles didn't get, anyway), but this year they've brought us the guests I've been hoping for. We have caterpillars! :)

July 26 -- Early (2nd or 3rd) instar caterpillar

July 29 -- 4th instar caterpillar

(This one has some rain drops on it, and those small white things look suspiciously like eggs....)

(My plan for this blog post was to update and re-post it periodically as the caterpillars grew up.... But unfortunately the two caterpillars I was watching disappeared the day after I took this last picture. Next time, if I'm going to watch a caterpillar grow, I'll do more to protect it so it doesn't get eaten. Oh well -- I hope another creature got a nice meal at least! :P)

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