Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chrysalis I Have Known

I love watching the lifecycles of animals, especially bugs. This year is a particularly fruitful year for my swallowtail butterfly friends. My yards became certified wildlife habitats last year, and i think i'm seeing the many catterpillars of last year returning to mate and lay eggs on this year's dill. The dill is huge this year (taller than me!), which is good because there are millions of caterpillars counting on it for food. They need to hurry up and eat the rest though, as it's shading my spring crops just a bit too much and going to seed everywhere. I'm saving some to replant next year, and hope some of the dill is still flowering for pickles this spring. The rest will have to be pulled if the caterpillars don't munch it down soon enough.

Check it out - you can see where the prior instar of the caterpillar is left
as a husk behind the new instar (life cycle of caterpillar)

Then one by one they scamper off (very fun to see a caterpillar 'hauling *ss' along the ground away from the dill) to find someplace suitable to caccoon themselves. Here are a few of the chrysalises (chrsyali?) i have been lucky enough to find. I've since found a few more hidden on the parsley plants and on other things - be careful what you pull when you're thinning out your gardens, there may be friends living there!

Soon these will turn into beautiful butterflies. I can never catch them on camera, but i found an almost perfectly preserved, dead butterfly clinging to a rosemary branch the other day. She now adorns my studio wall.

These guys are all black swallowtail butterflies. I saw a pipevine swallowtail cruising along the sidewalk the other day, not sure where he came from as there aren't many of his host plants around my yards.

Do you plant host plants for butterflies? What kinds?

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