Who ate my dill?
One day this summer, I noticed my dill was stripped clean in my vegetable garden, which disappointed me, to say the least. Upon further inspection, I found the culprit. It was a plump Black Swallowtail caterpillar! Somehow my disgust quickly dissipated into delight.
I quickly looked over my other carrot family plants like cilantro, parsley and Queen Anne's Lace, hoping to find more. Black Swallowtails feed on plants from the Parsley/Carrot family. In fact, some people call them parsley-worms. I didn't see any more caterpillars that day but decided to make a point of watching my little friend's progress from then on.
Since he had eaten all my dill, I moved him over to some Queen Anne's Lace. Two days later he had undergone a change; he had attached himself to a stem. The next day he started making the chrysalis, which became more colorful as time went on.
Fully expecting him to overwinter in my garden, I marked the spot where he was so as not to disturb it when cleaning out my flowerbeds in the fall. We then went on vacation for 2 weeks.
First thing I did when I got home though was to check on my guest. He was gone! I missed the show.
From my first encounter to the chrysalis stage took about 10 days. How long it took him to transform and fly the coop, I don't know. What I do know is, next year, I am planting more dill!
Although I did find a few more caterpillars in my garden, I never did find their chrysalises. I hope they have moved on to start the whole life-cycle all over again as well.
If you have never witnessed the unusual transformation of caterpillars into butterflies, you have missed one of God's most amazing little shows on earth. The intracacy of each stage and how different each is from the other is truly a mystery--a mystery I never tire of witnessing.
Want to learn more? Magiccanoe.com: Black Swallowtail caterpillar
Insects.tamu.edu Fieldguide Black Swallowtail (Photo of adult is from here)
Life Cycle of a Black Swallowtail Butterfly - includes info on how to set up a butterfly watching enclosure.