I’ve been watching as the Black Swallowtail butterfly flits around my vegetable garden laying eggs on the parsley and fennel. I took the camera out and got these photos. Everything looked good until the bees showed up!
In the first photo here you can see two eggs and one tiny black caterpillar. In the second photo see a more mature caterpillar. All these are currently found in my garden – all the stages. Right now I don’t think there is a pupa or chrysalis. Earlier this year a green one formed on the lower stalk of the fennel. They seem to prefer fennel over the parsley, although they are also known as parsley worms.
Grow some fennel if you want to encourage the Swallowtail to visit your garden. The worms will eat down the vegetables, so plant extra to allow them to feed. Check for eggs and worms before picking herbs!
The “parsley worm” is so pretty, and fun to watch. They will twist and reach for those strands of fennel. In fact I was watching one the other day, and decided to go inside and get my iPhone. By the time I got back out to the fennel, a wasp was eating the caterpillar! I took the video below as one wasp, or hornet or whatever it was, got kicked off the meal and another took over.
I was tempted to pull off my shoe and kill those bees, but it’s nature, so I controlled myself.
Between the hornets and the birds, it is quite amazing that any caterpillars get the chance to turn into a butterfly.
And here she is, back at the garden laying eggs on the fennel and parsley. There you have it, the full cycle of the life of the Swallowtail, found in my backyard.
For more great photos with life stages of the Swallowtail check out the post on Our Habitat Garden.