Friday, September 19, 2008


Finding parsley caterpillars (Black Swallowtails) in the garden is great fun for children and adults like. Even funner is capturing the caterpillars and placing them either in a shoe box or jar with ventilation. I chose to use a piece of window screen for ventilation for my caterpillar over this jar. The caterpillar was quite large when I captured him, and ate more parsley for about two more days then changed into a chrysalis. Within 10 days the butterfly had metamorphosed into the beautiful swallowtail you see above.

This butterfly was anxious to fly away, and that is just what I allowed it to do. Fly away little butterfly to make more caterpillars for another day.

in the garden....

Tomorrow is our Vegetable Garden Update. If you post on vegetables why not post on the 20th as well? Join Skeeter and I on a Veggie Garden Update Post on the 20th. No comments or back linking necessary. Hope to see all your veggies tomorrow.


  1. Hi Tina, wonderful idea to watch the little fellows transform. I can never find them in the chrysalis stage after seeing so many caterpillars on the bronze fennel that has self seeded everywhere. I had to buy another parsley plant to have some to cook with since they eat every single leaf and stem. I put them on the fennel but there is always a new guy on the parsley when the leaves grow back. I may have to cover the new parley plant, but get this, it came from the nursery, a locally owned one, with a caterpillar on it! They were on every single plant there, plus points for them for allowing them there. I moved my new purchased caterpillar to the fennel and planted the parsley away from it up in the veggie bed. I may make a little cage with some frost cloth to protect it.

    Hope you don't mind my including my new url, still getting the word out on my move.

  2. Tina ~ That's fantastic! What a great way to observe nature's transformation.

  3. What a pretty butterfly, it's so nice the encourage butterflies into the flying insects that they are. Nikki got the habitat for her b-day, she also got the polywog habitat. Ay, iy, iy.

  4. Oh Mom that must have been so fun. I love doing things like that! It is great watching something grow and change! And what a beautiful butterfly. I love looking for them in both the caterpillars stage and the chrysalis stage. You can almost always find monarch butterfly caterpillars in the milkweed up her in Maine. Those are one of my favorites cause they have such brilliant colors.

  5. Hi Tina,
    Your swallowtail is lovely - I wish we had them here.
    I've been browsing your blog and see you posted on the Blotanical awards. Did you know Stuart add some new categories? You may want to go back and add your vote for those too ... One day and a bit to go!

  6. The IDOT biologist who gave a presentation at the Insect Awareness Day we attended recently said she raises caterpillars every year and keeps them in a cage on her kitchen counter. She said she does that so she can remember to feed them and clean out the accumulated waste every day. Think what an ice breaker topic that would be for a dinner party!

  7. Isn't it beautiful. His wings are perfect. Later in life they carry all the scares of their adventures, but today he is brand new.

  8. Oh a vegetable garden update sounds great! will have to head out to my garden tonight with a camera and give my little seedlings some attention!

  9. This is a great idea, Tina; my grandkids would get a big kick out of this. I've already made a note to myself to plant some parsley and fennel next year just for the caterpillars.

  10. Good morning all!

    Frances, That was great to get a parsley plant from the nursery with its own caterpillar! Hope the nursery didn't charge you extra for it:) You can ALWAYS put your url on here. I don't mind at all!

    Cindy, Lillian would love it so keep an eye out for caterpillars. I don't think it is too late but it might be.

    Dawn, Love the polywogs of course. But keep an eye out. Don't you remember when we lived in Brunswick I had a caterpillar that changed into a yellow swallowtail in the spring? I never had that happen again until now. Such a good experience and Jimmy liked it.

    Christinelynn, I wish I could've done it with you kids when you were younger. Traveling around it wasn't meant to be. I will look for some monarchs up there. I love milkweed. Not sure if I want that kind in my garden though:)

    Sue, You have lots of other butterflies and insects in England to make up for it. I will check out Blotanical.

    Walk2write, I think that is kind of funny to keep caterpillars on your kitchen counter. I left mine on my front porch. She must raise them from eggs. When you get them in their last instar stage it takes merely a day or two to feed them before they change. Much easier! Going back to Illinois soon? Do NOT bring basil with you! The security folks would not like it. My family keeps teasing me on a small bowl of crushed parsley leaves that it is dope. No no. People might be too serious. No need of the headache:)

    Marnie, You hit the nail on the head. I was impressed by how new this butterfly was. You can see it in the picture. So often we see them in the garden missing parts and faded and tired. This one was PERFECT! Ready for the world and anxious to go in his newness. I let him go right away too.

    Stacy, I am looking forward to seeing your veggies. I remember in the spring when you began the garden.

    Rose, Grandkids would love it! I shared two other caterpillars with friends; including a neighbor. Their caterpillars hatched shortly after mine and they were thrilled! I think these young kids will remember forever. One of the kids took the spent chrysalis to school for show and tell. Makes it even more special to get it from grandma-you! Keep an eye for them. You may have these somewhere in the garden even without parsley and fennel. I found one Snow on the Mountain and was surprised. They did come late this year though.

  11. I think that is such a neat way to teach children about the world of butterflies... I have parsley in the garden but did not watch it close enough to find the caterpillars. I made my pick for drying and just ignored the rest. I plan to put the parsley in another spot next year so I will be able to watch it more closely for pre-butterfly's...

  12. We'll have to try that next year for the girls. Grace loves caterpillars and butterflies, it would be a great opportunity to show her how nature works!

  13. He is so gorgeous but what I really love about it is that my adult daughter still enjoys doing and takes the time to still do things like this. You go girl!! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  14. Skeeter, Parsley self seed so you may be surprised next year. I love it self seeding in my garden. Do look for the caterpillars.

    Dave, They are there and so easy to take care of. A great lesson for Grace. Olivia might be a tad too young now but will soon be ready for her own.

    Mom, Yup, still love the nature things. Sure wish Josh was close by so I can share it with him. Nature is so amazing.

  15. Mom- I am doing my best to get Josh outside and to enjoy nature. He is actually a bit of a scardy cat for a boy! I have caught snakes for him and taken him for walks outside and picked berries in the mist of several thorny bushes and bleeding so he could enjoy the freshness of Maine berries (HE LOVES THEM). I worry when I am not here who will do all that with him. That is the saddest part of my enlisting...leaving my BBB(beautiful baby boy, what I call him!

  16. Hi, I wish I'd planted veggies. I have some still in the seed packets. But I couldn't find a place my cat wouldn't crawl up into and do his business!

  17. I can't cease to be amazed by mother nature. Wonderful butterfly!

  18. Hi,
    They are beautiful creatures. Like Frances the caterpillars can be all over the parsley and fennel but I cannot locate a chrysalis anywhere! But there are butterflies and caterpillars aplenty so I know they must be hiding in a very good spot to over winter!


  19. How fun is that, watching the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into that beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.. Wonderful post today Tina. Enjoyed it very much. :)

  20. Christine, Mom and Dad will do things with him. He'll miss you for sure.

    Brenda, You have one of those cats too? We love kitties but they can be a bit bothersome when it comes to plants and gardens:(

    Gisele, Thanks! It is amazing!

    Gail, I did not bring in a chrysalis but the actual caterpillar. Like the one you had pictured on your blog on the parsley. That is the stage to gently break off the branch they are on and put them either in a jar or shoebox. Refresh food daily and wait. In less than a week (usually three days) they change into the chrysalis. Mine mounted itself to the side of the jar. Then 10 days later out came the beautiful butterfly. Try it next year! I have found chrsyalis's but leave them alone. Preferring the cats instead. Nature takes its course and you can't hurt them as long as you feed them.

    Racquel, It was fun and so easy to do! Especially when we all have gardens which the caterpillars love.

  21. What is that I hear???


    Tina and I are co-posting on Saturday and I will show you my Sept blooms on Sunday as they are scheduled and ready to go. I will not have access to a computer until back home on Sunday so hopefully, I will be able to pop in to say hello late Sunday...

    Everyone get out and enjoy this wonderful weather and have a great weekend!

  22. This has been a great post Tina. It sounds like a lot of fun to watch the caterpillar turn into a beautiful butterfly. I haven't seen one on any thing in my garden. I wonder if it would eat asparagus!!!! I must look much closer at all my plants to see if I can find one. I love to sit & watch them flutter about. They are so delicate & beautiful.

  23. Skeeter, Have a SUPER great time! Don't worry about the blog and we'll see you when you get back. Say hi to the Saint for me.

    Lola, I am not sure if they eat asparagus, but throw some dill seeds out in the garden or get some parsley and you'll be sure to have some. I think you have oregano in your garden. Mine spreads by runners too but not as far as maybe yours in Florida. Got the pics. Would love to post them sometime. It will be a while though as next week is all taken up with 'Blogiversary' postings. Hard to believe it has been nearly one year:) Your garden looks great btw.