Thursday, September 20, 2012

Make that 25...

A caterpillar bouquet, parsley, dill, and fennel flowers
   Sunday morning I was out in the front yard watering when I just happened to relax my focus long enough to spot a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on the fennel. My eyes quickly started jumping around for more and I eventually counted eight. Later that day I went back out and counted nine, then ten the next morning. That makes a total of 25! How could I have missed them? Ever since I got the caterpillars on my parsley I've been checking the fennel too, but somehow I missed. It just goes to show you that there's so much going on out there in the garden under your nose that you don't even realize! When I found them I had absolutely no room in the terrarium, the first batch of caterpillars were so large and eating so much so quickly, I could barely keep them fed and the terrarium clean. (BTW, these caterpillars poop a lot, especially the bigger they get, and vomit occasionally, who knew? It's important to keep their environment clean.) As the originals have begun pupating, there's now room to add the ones from the fennel. I've also had to supplement their feeding with store-bought herbs, luckily I can buy big bunches of organic parsley and dill from The Fresh Market. I hate dill, but they love it. You know the old saying, don't count your butterflies before they hatch...

Mmmm dill, chomp chomp chomp...

Here's one in the pre-pupating stage, you can see the thread of silk it's attached itself to the stick with.

They really seem to like this stick, there's five on it, all lined up in a row. Maybe they're communal pupaters?

Their chrysalis resembles a stumpy twig, pretty good camouflage, don't you think?

Speaking of caterpillars, this week I also found this fella outside on the salvia guaranitica. He's NOT coming inside. This Saddleback caterpillar is known for having the most potent sting of all the stinging caterpillars. I should know, I got stung!

If you see one, don't touch it! I'd say it's similar to a Yellow Jacket sting.

The cold front that passed through the east coast earlier this week brought the Monarchs with it on their way to Mexico, they are EVERYWHERE! The sky is absolutely full of them-so cool!


  1. Great post. You are certainly doing a remarkable job attracting caterpillars. I am envious. Well, maybe not of that guy with the stingers.

  2. Wow! Great pictures. They look so cute. Except the one that stings. I wouldn't want to cuddle him. xo

  3. Awesome pictures! Those caterpillars look amazing.

  4. That's neat that you're seeing so many monarchs, and caterpillars. Thanks for the tips on the herbs. I love growing them but was unsure which ones attract butterflies.

  5. Thanks everyone! I had no idea they were going to be so much work! Cleaning the terrarium, changing the water in the vases, tracking down fresh herbs for them...not that I'm complaining-it's worth it :)