Whenever the question is asked what I do with the parsley that I grow, my answer is that I grow butterflies! Every year since I’ve had my herb garden containers on the deck, I’ve had butterfly eggs grow into caterpillars which then went into the chrysalis. Eventually it splits and a black swallowtail butterfly emerges.
We don’t get to see the butterfly emerge very frequently, so it’s a special treat when we see it actually happen. We have found the chrysalis’s all over – on the deck, in the mint, and on the pots. It’s frustrating to cut mint and bring it in and have a plump chrysalis attached to it. On the other hand though, it’s wonderful to find a split chrysalis and know that yet another butterfly has lived.
One thing I learned the hard way was to not fertilize the parsley. The caterpillars are very suspectible to the fertilize and will die from it. Eventually there will be more caterpillars than parsley and it’s always sad for me when they die from lack of enough parsley. No matter how much I plant, eventually there are too many of them eating the greenery.
The butterfly picture is from several summers ago; the caterpillars from a few days ago. They are back for the first time this summer. I think the heat kept them from laying eggs sooner.
Did you notice there are two caterpillars in the picture? At the far left is a second one tucked under the leaves. The three black pellets to the right of the caterpillar in the center are the poops. Seeing those is how I usually find the tomato hornworms in the garden (the caterpillars are similar in appearance and action).
Word for tomorrow – UNINTERESTING. If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.