Black Swallowtails

I stopped at a little nursery looking for monarch eggs or caterpillars on milkweed. I found nothing but aphids and seed pods. Not interested.

I had been thinking of planting some host plants for swallowtail butterflies so I meandered to the herb section. I was looking for parsley, dill, fennel, and rue. The only thing this nursery had was parsley. Most of them looked on the verge of death. I dug through the plants to see if I could find a couple worth salvaging. I was thinking I could bring them back to life.

As I was looking through the parsley, I noticed these guys!  Black swallowtail caterpillars were on many plants. I bought most of the plants that had caterpillars and secured them for the ride home. After getting home I realized I had seven caterpillars. Six were big, chunky ones and one was very young. I gave two away to a butterfly friend…and I accidentally killed the baby🙁. 

Obviously I found these guys in the late stages of their caterpillar life. The guy on the left climbed up the enclosure wall and prepared to become a chrysalis. The other two caterpillars continued to munch away.

These are photos of the day after I found the caterpillars. One is in chrysalis stage. Do you see the webs supporting the chrysalis on the side? It’s called a girdle.  Really cool. Different from the monarchs. I’m more familiar with monarchs. 

I took out the potted parsley so it could begin to recover from the damage the caterpillars inflicted. I put in some dill and parsley in a floral tube. They really enjoyed the dill. 

The remaining two purged (yuck) and are looking for a suitable place to form a chrysalis. I read once they purge, they will not eat anymore.

Looks like one guy wants to be near his sibling.

These guys didn’t stay where I thought the would. They both decided a stick was where they wanted to plant themselves so they’d become a chrysalis. I was surprised they  were on the underside of the stick.  Notice the candy cane shape. They will stay like this for a day or two while preparing to form a chrysalis. 

The chrysalises are formed. Do you notice that these two are brown and the one at the top of this page is green?  It seems eastern black swallowtails will be either green or brown depending on where they park themselves. If they are on a plant they are likely to be green. If they are on a branch or twig they will be brown. It’s a camouflaging technique

Guess what I just realized!  I am going on a road trip vacation in 6 days. that means I have to take these guys along with me so I can release them when they eclose. Some monarchs just laid eggs on my milkweed so they will be taking a road trip too.