Monday, August 18, 2008
My friend Nancy Bea recently wrote about the plethora of pests in her garden this summer. There was one that was so beautiful she couldn't bring herself to kill. I think she was talking about the Black Swallowtail caterpillar, one of the few that is beautiful as a larva as well as an adult. They love parsley, dill, Queen Anne's lace, and carrots. I have a few in my garden as well that I, too, leave alone. In fact, I always have the urge to plant a whole crop of something they'll love in hopes of attracting them. This year, they were lucky enough to find some dill volunteers, since our gardening was completely thrown off by our trip to Barcelona. Course, if you're kind to them, remember they are as ravenous as any other caterpillar (look at the second row picture!)
It seems to be the time for caterpillars. I happened to see some gorgeous Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars the other day and didn't have my camera (gasp!), but of course images of them abound elsewhere.
And I've noticed more and more Monarchs flying around our rather weedy field. They love the clover and then lay their eggs on the also plentiful milkweed.
Right behind the house there are a few errant milkweed that have a collection of Monarch caterpillars in each possible stage (instar)... the tiniest dark green baby maybe an eighth of an inch long, the teeny half-inch long toddlers just showing their stripes, up to the beautiful yellow, green, and black striped adults ready to go into those gorgeous gold tipped chrysalises.
This one above is probably only in the fourth instar stage. (The fifth and last instar features longer antennae.) I found it on the side of a wooden step, below some milkweed, just hanging out. I think it's probably getting ready to molt.