Thursday, July 07, 2011

Swallowtail caterpillars

A very quick one here.  Lovely Sister is here and we are gadding and nattering quite a bit, and I am not much to be found on-line, my apologies.  However, one or two things beg a quick posting, for example these swallowtail caterpillars:


We've not had any of these for a few years, and I've not noticed any of the butterflies for a while, but the odd thing is we found them on the Mexican orange bushes.  Swallowtails usual like umbelliferous, carrot family type things like, well, carrots, and fennel, and parsley.  A broad-leaved shiny evergreen type shrub seems completely unsuitable.  When I found the first one, I assumed it had fallen upon it by accident, and moved it to the parsley (I am quite happy to have my parsley crop completely consumed if necessary in the cause of the proliferation of swallowtails).


 Then we noticed another on the other Mexican orange, and clearly it did seem to be eating it, so one can only assume that mother swallowtail knew best and it does constitute an acceptable food crop for them.

I wondered if caterpillars had to continue eating the things they start by eating, and if I should move the displaced one back, but on inspection it looked as if it had started eating the parsley, so I will keep an eye on them both and see how they get on.  Experiments in previous years seemed to indicate that they thrived better on carrot tops than parsley, but we shall see.

14 comments:

The Crow said...

What beautiful creatures, now and when they morph into glorious winged beings. Lovely photos, Lucy. In fact they are the best ones of swallowtail cats that I ever seen. I bet there are some nature web sites that would love to have your pictures.

Dale said...

:-)

marja-leena said...

Wonderful photos! And such attracive caterpillars, so much more than the green ones that I squished off my broccoli plants after they'd chomped off whole leaves and left only a few hole-y ones.

Kathleen said...

So beautiful. I wonder if the new food is an adaptation thing?

Looking forward to sister time myself later this summer!

YourFireAnt said...

They are so bright they look ceramic. Nice shots, Lucy. I continue to get compliments on the cover of my chapbook.

;-)

marly youmans said...

Lucy, have a lovely time with your sister... I sometimes get monarchs on my butterfly weed, but no sign of them this year.

Zhoen said...

They will become Beee yooo tee fullll butterflies!

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Very pretty but...only in someone else's garden, thank you very much!

Anne said...

Beautiful photos. I was interested in the butterflies, so looked them up. The caterpillars also feed on leaves of the citrus family, and are considered pests of citrus. I guess that's why they like your Mexican Orange.

Barrett Bonden said...

Americans like to past-tense dive as dove. There's a temptation with thrive, or is it only me?

I would love to breed caterpillars that ate only courgettes. Nah, that's too unambitious. How about marrows, cucumbers, zucchini and squash as well? Get rid of all those watery green nothings. Oh, aubergines too. I believe you're a lover of the latter; fine, you eat, I watch.

zephyr said...

They are such handsome creatures...and i loved reading your report and look forward to more

HLiza said...

Say hi to that sister! Love these catterpillars photos..magical creatures they are..

Crafty Green Poet said...

Glad you're enjoying your time with your sister! These are magnificent caterpillars, look forward to seeing photos of the butterflies!

Anil P said...

Unless they're adept at adapting to different plants in their early days.

The patterns on the caterpillars are quite striking, and contrast beautifully with the green of leaves.

I hope they soon take wings and we can see the pictures here.