Last year several friends were able to watch Monarch caterpillars make their chrysalises and then emerge as beautiful butterflies. I was hoping to be able to do this with the boys this summer. I still haven’t found a Monarch caterpillar or chrysalis but we’ve found the mother lode of Black Swallowtail caterpillars! I’m so excited!!! Here’s the story to date.
A week or so ago my mother-in-law found caterpillars eating her dill plants. She thought they were pests so was going to dispose of them all. When my father-in-law saw what they were he recognized them as Black Swallowtail caterpillars! Needless to say, they’ve been left to mature into beautiful butterflies! I’ve been checking them every day. Every day they get bigger! Yesterday afternoon we got to see one eating the dill weed (leaves). It was the neatest thing! He was very methodical in his eating habits. He would crawl along the stem and with a couple front pairs of legs he’d pull the leaf up to his mouth. He started at the tip of the leaf and would eat right down to the stem. Then he’d move out a little further on the stem and do the same thing all over again with the next leaf. So my idea is to keep watching the caterpillars until they get ready to form their chrysalises. Then I’ll transfer then to a glass jar for us to watch until they emerge as butterflies!
Well, the other day, I checked our puny dill plants to see if we had any caterpillars. We didn’t. 😦 But imagine my surprise when Scott came in from the garden last night and said he’d found a Black Swallowtail caterpillar in our snow peas!!! Of course, I went right out to see the caterpillar and noticed that it was in the position these caterpillars assume when they are ready to form their chrysalis! This morning Johnny and I went out to the garden and broke off the part of the pea plant he was attached to and put it in a mason jar. Did I mention how excited I am!
I still plan to get the other caterpillars when they get ready to form their chrysalises but it’s really neat to have one from our own garden!
I don’t have any pictures of our caterpillars yet but here’s the link to the wikipedia page on Black Swallowtails. Black Swallowtail And here’s a link to a page with great pictures. Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) Enjoy! I’ll try to get some pictures of our caterpillars today. 🙂