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The Unexpected Blessing of...Neglect?

 
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I have neglected my parsley this year. Partly, it's because I have been using it fresh as I need it. Also, it's because I've wanted to try saving its seeds. Some of its seed pods are ready to be collected, but mostly I've just scattered them into the soil nearby. Call it lazy? Call it smart? I don't know.

But, as the summer intensifies, my poor little parsley plant is pitiful. (alliteration, much? )

This morning I noticed three interesting caterpillars have decided to start munching away on the plant. At first I thought they were monarchs? But no, don't they exclusively eat milkweed? A quick google search has me inclined to believe these little guys are in the swallowtail family.

My family is under strict orders not to pull the plant. Let it be homely. I'd rather see what beautiful butterflies will emerge.
parsley.jpg
Swallowtails, perhaps?
Swallowtails, perhaps?
 
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Looks like Anise Swallowtails, which will feed on anything in the carrot family. Gorgeous critters, I have a couple of huge fennel plants I let grow just for them every year.
 
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anise swallowtail is a western species; in georgia, there’s a handful of other species it could be. unfortunately, they tend to crawl away to pupate, so it’s not always easy to know what you had!
 
pollinator
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The caterpillars seem to be in the later instar and are about to crawl away to pupate. If you want to observe the process, bring some with celery stalks indoor and put in a big jar. It is quite amazing to see how a caterpillar wraps a thin filament around itself to attach then slowly transforms into a chrysalis. It helps the butterflies too, as I lost many caterpillars to my chickens.
 
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I had the same experience with my parsley last year. We brought the stems in and kept them in a jar. It was pretty cool to watch the butterfly emerge.
 
Stacie Kim
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Thanks for the ideas, everyone!

I know my two sons would like to see what emerges. (The boys have already watched a tomato hornworm pupate and emerge, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.)

Perhaps if I make it to the grocery store to buy celery while they're still here, I'll put them in a coffee-filtered mason jar. But I might also bring in some parsley stems. I'll ask my sons if they want to take on the project.
 
May Lotito
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Oh, sorry, I mean parsley. You don't need to buy anything. Black swallowtail butterflies in my area prefer dills over others in the carrot family. And they certainly craw a lot, i found a chrysalis on a flower 10 ft away from the dills. Have fun raising butterflies!
 
Stacie Kim
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I put two of the caterpillars into a large jar with the last of my parsley. They both attached themselves to the side of the jar.

Lookie at what I found this morning!! A beautiful black swallowtail butterfly!!
butterfly-2.jpg
Black Swallowtail Butterly
Black Swallowtail Butterly
 
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Stacie Kim wrote:I put two of the caterpillars into a large jar with the last of my parsley. They both attached themselves to the side of the jar.

Lookie at what I found this morning!! A beautiful black swallowtail butterfly!!



I love that you caught the timing when it had just made its change, and was drying its wings!! That's amazingly beautiful!
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