The Hungry Caterpillars


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Last weekend I noticed a black swallowtail caterpillar on my dill. I had planted some dill in the space that is to be Phase II of our flower garden, but for now that space was serving as a makeshift vegetable garden. The dill had sprouted up from one of the large pots we had grown garlic in last year so I transplanted it to the ground instead. With the longer day lengths and increased heat it has already jumped into flowering.

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When I finally got around to taking photos I noticed smaller instars of the caterpillars! They are soooo cute, right?

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There’s a small mound of parsley right next to the dill and I glanced over it but didn’t see them on that. I guess the dill is tastier!

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I was just Googling around to see what I could learn about black swallowtails I came across an interesting page talking about what the caterpillars ate before they came and enjoyed our garden herbs. The Apiaceae family is what they like to feast on and fennel is mentioned quite a bit. I’m familar with the native dog fennel, Eupatorium capillifolium, but apparently that is in the Asteraceae family so my guess is that is a no go. I’ll have to run down the list of species in Apiaceae that are native to my area and plant some or let them grow wild for the caterpillars during times when I don’t have those herbs for them to munch on.

Today we’re starting work on our vegetable garden. We’ve already brought in two loads of dirt to even out and raise up the area we are going to use. We’re going to start putting in the wood for the main beds and Chris is going to work on installing some of the plumbing. He won’t be able to finish that this weekend so we’ll be hand watering for awhile. I’m hoping to have my tomatoes and potatoes in the ground by tomorrow. Eventually we’ll have a bed wrapping around the perimeter too for vines, herbs, etc, and then a fence to go around it. Until we get the fence up I think Chris is talking about putting a couple of lines of fishing line out to try to deter the deer from having a feast. We’ll see how that works.

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3 thoughts on “The Hungry Caterpillars

  1. Elizabeth says:

    So cool. I’ve been intending to plant some things for the butterflies around here, but haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe I’ll make it a project for tomorrow.

    Aside and unrelated, but your comment about natives made me think of it — I really want to start a small native prairie grass garden. I took an urban ecology class about 8 years ago and I’ve wanted to start a meadow project in my backyard ever since.

  2. Beegirl says:

    Have fun planting! Love the pictures of that little guy. If your fishing line doesn’t work out, we have had great luck with a solar powered electric fence : )

  3. Tracy Barr says:

    My family used to SWEAR by small soaps tied to the orchard trees to keep deer away. Not sure if it worked, but they repeatedly used it, and had produce, so…could have been that the dogs kept the deer away, too, but who knows that the soap maybe helped?

    Grandma used to always say use the soap from the hotels.

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