I’m sharing my herbs with caterpillars

Days after I was moaning about seeing no butterflies in my garden, a big rain came – and soon afterwards came three butterflies. One was an Eastern Black Swallowtail, and I watched her lay eggs in a small pot of parsley. My first thought was: I’m gonna need a bigger parsley! Because, last year, I got to see swallowtails as they grew and grew and grew. The last instar or stage is in the picture above. And this post is a stage-by-stage view of how it got there.

Can you see the eggs? One’s near the centre, with more nearby.

I know that I’ll be getting more herbs for my hatched eggs to eat – anything in the carrot family, but dill and parsley are favourites. There’s plenty for me in the grocery store, if I need it. But butterflies can only go shopping in our gardens. Let’s let them have all they want!

See the tiny, newly hatched caterpillar, with an egg for context, in last year’s dill?
Each instar looks different, every time it sheds its skin. And the early ones are very different from the adult in the first picture. You wouldn’t think they were the same creature. My fingers for scale.
Not a very sharp image, because the caterpillars are so small, but this one has just moulted. Can you see the black, shed skin behind it?
Getting larger.
Side view of this hungry, hungry caterpillar.

Cursor over the last two pictures to see the captions, or click any image for the slideshow. For more information about the lifecycle of this beautiful butterfly, here’s a link to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. And, because I can’t get enough of those butterflies, here’s another.

She’s a little battered and missing her swallow’s tails, but still beautiful.

How about you? Are you sharing your herbal wealth with any caterpillars this year?


    1. Me, too, Jason. I keep lifting up the milkweed leaves to check for monarch eggs – there are a few, but no wee cats yet.

  1. Hi Helen .. I was SO disappointed that I couldn’t get my hands on any dill this year .
    That is the herb they really seemed to like when I had them visit for years.
    I don’t know what happened with the providers other than there was none to be had .. maybe crop failure ? I just couldn’t get any .. for years I would plant a BIG pot and have the cats which we loved to watch .. I have a really large pot of curly parsley just for them this year .. so I am still watching to see what is happening. I hope to have some but I have a feeling this year is going to be a bust.
    I’m very happy for you though girl ! Well done ! 🙂

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