A few more pictures from that batch of caterpillars
They start off so small. (There are 2 eggs in the picture above)On their way to becoming eating machines. (4 caterpillars near the middle of the picture, click on the image to get a full size version)The black swallowtail after pumping his wings full. This set of pictures was from a couple of years ago. Usually, the butterflies from the first batch of the year emerge around the beginning of July. As mentioned in the last post, we will often plant fennel for the purpose of hosting the caterpillars. It doesn’t cost much and seeing the new butterflies is definitely worth it. They (Black Swallowtail caterpillars) will eat parsley, carrots, dill and several other related plants. The ones in our area seem to prefer fennel.
One other interesting thing happened with the fennel. It grew back the next year. If the conditions are right it is a biennial or even a perennial. It was even bigger than the year before, but the caterpillars seemed up to the challenge.
We will sometimes plant fennel to feed them.
This is what the previous butterfly looked like around a couple of weeks earlier (not necessarily the same individual).
Things have been a little busy/stressful lately, so here is a random butterfly to look at.
A very stylish and elegant moth.
This moth surprised us when we spotted it a few years ago on a crepe myrtle at our previous house in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a Tersa Sphinx. I thought it a svelte and stylish creature and grabbed the camera. It took me some time to determine what sort of moth it was. It is not considered rare but I had not seen it before or since. The caterpillars feed on catalpa and pentas among other things, and are large and green like those of many other sphinx moths. Perhaps I need to plant some host species and attract some at our current location. I would like to see one again.
A Black Swallowtail just out of its chrysalis
We always try to grow fennel, parsley, or dill for Black Swallowtail caterpillars. This one just emerged from its chrysalis on a basil. It has just about finished drying its wings.