Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm Growing Butterflies!

The caterpillars are beginning to take over my garden. The Black Swallowtail caterpillars are munching down on my Parsley:

They use plants from the carrot family as their host plants. These include Carrots, Dill, Parsley, and Fennel. Here is a closer shot of the beautiful stripes on these guys:

Here is a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar:

He is munching down on a passionflower - the host plant of this species. They COMPLETELY defoliated my huge passionvine last year, but the passionflower is adapted to such abuse and came right back from the ground this spring. The caterpillars then spin themselves up in their cocoons and hang themselves all over my house. The chrysalis is light brown and closely resembles a dead leaf. This one is on my porch chair:

Here is a picture of a Queen butterfly on my mist flowers. Boy do they dig the mist flowers! They simply MOB this flower - it is like Queen butterfly Crack!:

The Queen butterfly is related to the Monarch butterfly and like the Monarch, uses Milkweed as its host plant. Some milkweeds contain cardiac glycosides which are stored in the bodies of both the caterpillar and adult. They make them distasteful to birds and other critters that might otherwise think the Queen a nummy snack.


Iris said...

I guess it's a mixed blessing, huh? I mean, I'm sorry these little critters are taking over, but they sure are beautiful. Thanks for the cool photos!

katina said...

I've got the black swallowtail caterpillars as well, though there's only a few of them (I think it's because I have a lot more little plants this year and not a large plant for them to feast upon).

Lee17 said...


I know! They make such pretty butterflies, I just don't have the heart to kill even one - so my plants just get eaten to the ground.

Lee17 said...


Yeah, they sure like the really big plants. I normally have lots of dill plants, but I didn't get them in early enough this year and the pill bugs got them. I had to wait until the parsley bloomed for the Swallowtails to show up.But now they are here and plowing my parsley to the ground!