28 April 2008

Caterpillars and Butterflies Galor

Last weekend, I was putzing about the garden and happened upon 3 black swallowtails in various stages of pupating. These butterflies are what some old-timers call "parsleyworm," due to the their obvious preference for growing up on fennel, dill, parsley, Queen Ann's lace and others in that family. These 3 all dispersed from the fennel, and thankfully they left plenty of that yummy herb/veggie for John and I to eat.

This is what the caterpillar looks like before it sheds its outer skin to reveal the alien-like chrysalis underneath. This one found a safe spot on the parsley.

Here's the same one in chrysalis form. Notice the small string of silk that cradles the top of the chrysalis. You have to wonder how they accomplish that. This one is green, but if it had chosen a brown stem, it'd be brown.

A different one found shelter in the sea oats.

And this little black swallowtail caterpillar snuck off to do its trick on the aster. (It was like finding jewels or Easter eggs, I tell ya...)

I caught one of the monarchs emerging.

This happened the same time of year that my mom was visiting last year. I supposed the first generation of monarchs will always remind me of her visit here...

And finally, anyone know what these critters are? These have totally devoured a sunflower and are moving to the others. They group together when smaller, but seem to be dispersing now. I'm not sure if they will get larger before pupating. Nor do I know why there are two different morphs (one blacker, one oranger).


vbdb said...

I think your mystery caterpillars are Gulf Fritillarys (sp?) in the making.

Pam/Digging said...

I agree with Vicki. Gulf fritillaries are pretty orange butterflies. The larvae usually devour passionflower vine in my garden.

Your monarch emergence was really cool.

Rachel @ in bloom said...

Wow, that's awesome. I thought (hoped) I had a bunch of black swallowtail larvae on my dill, but it wound up being ladybug larvae... which is still cool, but not what I was hoping for. Maybe next year, I'll graduate to growing butterflies in my garden.

vertie said...

Wow, that is so cool that you were able to catch all the stages. I've only gotten the caterpillars before.

And good luck on the squash. I didn't plant any this year because of my problems last year with the squash vine borer and now I'm kind of regretting it.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

Beautiful photos. I bought some dill for the caterpillars but I waited to late to plant it, I think. Everyone else's is large and blooming already.

Laura said...

wow, those are really great! i love watching the different stages of butterfly development. we have tons of monarch caterpillars right now on our asclepia(sp?). and the same thing happened to my when my mom was visiting--it was also easter day so it was extra special for my mom, a devout catholic, to see the butterfly emerging from it's cocoon. very nice! love your blog, as always.

sister*bluebird said...

Where I am from, those are called Saddlebacks, and if they are, then they sting. I have had the displeasure of grabbing some while climbing trees and reaching into bushes. Cold water will usually wash the swelling and stinging away. Though it will light up your life if you know what I mean. But the other person may be more correct. Check out these photos on this site to see!


winner said...

I agree with you about these. Well someday Ill create a blog to compete you! lolz.