What I Do With Extra Parsley Is Grow Butterflies

I don’t have to worry about having excess parsley in my garden.  I’m fortunate if the caterpillars leave me any once they get going!

The first batch of caterpillars earlier this summer died.  I try to not fertilize the parsley because I know how sensitive the caterpilllars are, but I must have done so unintentionally.

I’d given up on having any caterpillars this year, so imagine my surprise when I went to get some parsley for my cooking and put my hand right on a good sized caterpillar!  How could I not have noticed they were here again?

These were a pretty good size, so I must not have
been paying much attention to the pot when I watered it.

They’re soft and smooth, so there wasn’t any yuck factor.  But I don’t want to accidentally kill them by touching or handling them.

There wasn’t just the one either – I counted seven, although in my picture I could only find six plus a fly buzzing through when I clicked the shutter.

I circled them for you to see – and yes, the question mark is by a fly.
I had to blow it up to tell for sure that it wasn’t a bee.

A week ago Sunday, it was nice enough for me to sit outside and read for a while.  I got pictures of a momma robin evading my attention and later, photographed a goldfinch as he raided my basil for seeds.  Those weren’t the only pictures that day – the female eastern black swallowtail came back to lay more eggs!

My camera was already on continuous shoot when I was trying to get the robin.  I lined up and clicked away.  I got a number of good shots.

She flew around the parsley, back to the yard, and came around to the parsley again.

I got quite a show!  Just like with the goldfinch, it hung around much longer than I expected, so I kept shooting away.

I was spellbound.  The butterfly was in good shape – her wings were whole with no ragged edges.

Yes, it is a female, at least according to Wikipedia.  The male is yellow and black and very distinctively different.

It’s quite a blessing to have such beauty right in my own backyard and to study its complexity as it flys, lands and does its thing.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to watch the chrysalis’s and maybe see the new butterflies emerge.

A few days after all these pictures, I noticed the momma robin hanging around that corner of the deck.  After she left, I went and looked and sure enough, there was not a single caterpillar left.  They were varying sizes, so it is unlikely they all went to spin a cocoon at the same time.  I think they became baby food.

Darn robin!  My collard greens are nearly skeletal from the cabbage loopworms that grew after I’d left for Georgia.  I wish she’d go and clean those out, although they aren’t as big and fat as the swallowtail caterpillars were.  Nor are they as easy to get, since they’re on the underside of the collard leaves, not sitting on top of the parsley in plain view.

This is the fourth year we’ve raised butterflies and I’ve not had that happen before.  I’ve had them die because they ate all the parsley and didn’t like the store bought parsley.  But I’ve never had the birds eat them.

There are more caterpillars already growing.  Whether they survive the robin remains to be seen.


dogear6 View All →

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.

15 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dang old robin! But I bet you will still have a crop of butterflies next year! We have been invaded by small bees right now and huge red wasps. I try to be so careful when filling the hummingbird feeders, but got popped on the palm by a wasp on Wed. Yikes! Just today the swelling is down and the pain has subsided. Ahhh the hazards of the natural world! : ) Have a wonderful Weekend!!! K

    • Wasp stings are nasty. I try to be careful around all the bees. Those small sweat bees are the pits and when they bite it really hurts.

      You have a good week too!


  3. Ah, the balance of nature. I read somewhere that if all the caterpillars survived and became butterflies, there wouldn’t be enough nectar to support them. I want to go out and bring mine inside! lol

    • That’s probably true. They seem to need a lot of food to survive. At least you’ve been successful raising them inside – mine all died several years ago so I’m leery of trying it again.

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