Tag Archives: parsley worm

tomato hornworm eating eggplant

Non-Producing Vegetable Plants Can Still Serve a Purpose

In the heat of the Florida summer months, I have done little gardening. But the plants I began growing in Spring, are continuing to grow. Even though I am not getting much, if any, produce from them, they serve a purpose. They can be food for worms; give bugs a place to crawl, which in turn feeds the birds, (mostly, I have cardinals); and provide a playground for the lizards.

The two eggplant plants I have in the garden have grown tall. They have continued to produce pretty purple flowers, but have never given me a single eggplant!  It’s either the poor soil, or the heat, or both.

Eggplant flower
Purple Flower of the Eggplant

The plants themselves are interesting with their big leaves. I have trouble tearing up and throwing out a perfectly healthy plant, even if it’s not giving me the food I’d hoped for.

I’m glad I left the eggplants growing, and continued to give them water, just because I couldn’t NOT do so.   I noticed missing leaves and found a big, juicy, tomato hornworm chowing down on the leaves. The hornworm can eat a tremendous amount, and it’s apparent they have arrived when you notice entire leaves missing on the tomato plants!  Stalks can become completely bare in a matter of a days time.

tomato hornworm eating eggplant
Tomato Hornworm on Eggplant

One summer I was visiting my sister in Massachusetts, and she said that something was eating her tomato leaves. Sure enough, there it was – a big green worm. So I pointed it out to her!  She was astonished, but hadn’t looked close enough to see the worm.

Tomato hornworms often show up near the end of summer – at least in the north, that was how it happened in my garden. The one eating my eggplant here in Florida was lucky. I did not care that he was destroying the plant, it was useless to me anyway.  He ate and ate and grew bigger over the course of about 2 days.

I find these pretty green worms quite interesting.  Often, a wasp of some kind lays it’s eggs on the worm, which kills it.  There were no eggs on this guy.  He was doing quite well for himself.

Then he was gone… eaten by a bird maybe? I don’t know. Most of the eggplant’s leaves had been eaten by then, and I felt like I had given him a meal at the very least.  If the worm lives, it becomes the Sphinx Moth.

Most gardeners don’t allow the hornworm to live… it is too detrimental to vegetable plants, like the tomato, eggplant, pepper, and potato plants, as you can see in my photo below!

Bare eggplant after tomato worm ate leaves
Bare eggplant after tomato worm ate the leaves

On to the parsley worms.

In the North, I always grew parsley, and it lasted well into the winter months. But eventually, it did die.  Deer used to come into my backyard and nose through the snow looking for greens to eat, and sure enough, they would find the parsley still going strong at the beginning of winter.

Since I’ve been in Florida – over a year now – the parsley I planted last summer is still growing fine! I use it daily in my omelets, salads, and other home-cooked food.

The parsley is planted in two separate containers, and I’ve noticed that both areas have parsley worms munching on the leaves.  They will turn into Black Swallowtail Butterflies. One has already made a cocoon.

So the plants that are simply growing for … what, fun? in my garden have served a useful purpose to help nature continue.  Whether the worms change into butterflies or are food for the birds, it’s all nature doing it’s thing.

parsley worms
Parsley Worms Become Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Read my page, with my photos, about the Swallowtail Butterflies that come from these worms.

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Parsley Worm and The Butterfly it Becomes

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 1.55.56 PMThis is a story about the parsley worms in my backyard. My garden is small, and a bit unique in that at the present time my vegetables are in pots and fabric bags.  I use fresh parsley often, and I have it growing in two locations.

One day I found this colorful worm crawling along a parsley stem and munching away.  I could see that he had chewed off many of the surrounding leaves.  This striped guy is appropriately called a “parsley worm”.

I couldn’t remember what type of butterfly it would become, (had to look that up) but I knew it was getting ready to form a chrysalis.

Turns out it’s a Swallowtail butterfly that emerged from the green chrysalis a few weeks later. The wrapped worm was attached to a stem of basil, which had gone to seed, but was in the same pot as the parsley the worm was eating.

But here’s what happened first.  I found the worm sitting in this position (below) and he was no longer eating.  In fact he was on the basil now, and not the parsley.  This is where he formed his chrysalis.  I checked it every day, and after a few weeks, there was something new to see.

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Worm beginning to form a chrysalis

Once the butterfly “hatched” he crawled to the top of the basil stem to try out his new wings.  Maybe this is the perfect set up for encouraging butterfly production.  I hope it happens again.

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Arrow pointing to the empty chrysalis

A few days ago I happened to go outside and saw this beautiful black butterfly at the top of the basil stem, and I knew… the baby was born!  The wind was blowing, but he held on for hours.  I kept checking on it, and then suddenly he was no longer there.

I felt like a proud parent.  I had helped a new baby butterfly enter the world. Course, I had done nothing but plant the parsley… haha!!!  But I felt good. And I’m glad I was able to see the beautiful butterfly before it flew away.  I took lots of photos, like a proud parent does, and one video.


It turns out that there are many types of Swallowtail butterflies, and the worms can be different colors too.  I honestly don’t know much about all of this, but I love it!  Imagine going from being earth bound and crawling among bunches of green parsley, to having big beautiful wings that take you up into the sky!  I will keep an eye out for eggs on the parsley leaves, and bright green worms among the branches.