The yard’s swallowtail cycle went into high gear through the early weeks of August. Which meant that, for a while, there were more caterpillars than the predators could eat. (And then the caterpillars ate faster than the parsley and fennel could grow, which meant another trip to the garden store.)
At one point there were so many caterpillars on the parsley, and so many eggs being laid, that mistakes were made.
Since I had a container ready, I decided to collect “a few more” caterpillars. (As it turned out, twenty-two was a few too many, forcing yet another trip to the garden store.)
I dreamed of waking one day to a container full of butterflies. An unlikely dream, yes, but a lovely one!
(Unlikely because only three of my first thirteen caterpillars survived to become butterflies. Some died of unknown causes, some were destroyed when a predator broke into their enclosure, and three fell victim to what I suspect was a parasitoid.)
I was thrilled when twenty-one of the twenty-two caterpillars survived to become chrysalises.
And, while the butterflies haven’t emerged in a coordinated swarm, they have begun to emerge. Twelve, so far, of the twenty-one. (Including two this morning.)
This is a vast improvement over three of thirteen!
Thrilled with this success, and having a bit of parsley left over, I’m still collecting caterpillars. Last weekend four of the latest group roamed until they were exhausted, then settled into chrysalises.
I wonder if there is enough summer left for them? Will they emerge and mate this year? Or will they wait until spring, pausing the cycle as they sleep through winter’s dreary interlude?
A fine endeavor, helping life along, especially the mysterious lives of Lepidoptera. I wonder if we will ever know how life is sparked from the dead sea inside a chrysalis. How thrilling to be involved in this miracle!
Watching the cycle, I get more and more curious. How does it all work?! “Miracle” is the only explanation I can settle on…
What a blessing! I am going to try to imitate you next year. I even have a spot picked out for my new butterfly garden.
Good luck with your butterfly garden! I’ve had more fun this summer, watching butterflies and caterpillars, than I would have thought possible. 🙂