Sacrificing the Plants

I’ve learned that gardening is a lot like veterinary medicine. It was supposed to be my sanctuary away from work, but, what can you do? You have to feed and water your plants, keep them from overcrowding, pay attention to the temperature in their environment, note light and dark cycles; prevent, watch and treat for diseases, and bugs.

Ug. Bugs.

I spend a lot of time on the microscope, looking for parasites at work!

Finally found the culprits eating my brussel sprouts on Saturday. Four small little caterpillars, one on each. Pulled them off and placed them near my neighbor’s yard on the far opposite end of the house (it’s ok. They only have grass).

Yesterday morning, I was watering everything in a rush- getting late for work as usual. And there in my parsley was a gigantic, pudgy, bright caterpillar.


When I checked the plants after returning home in the evening, he was still there. Though a good portion of the parsley was not. Showed the kids, cause he was cool:


And just huge! I had them put him in the vines, because those really need to be demolished a little. Then googled him.

Before I finished typing in ‘Green, black, yellow….’, Google finished with ‘caterpillar.’

And this was the first thing to pop up:

No, That’s Not A Monarch on Your Parsley (wordpress blogger, go check out her site!)

Turns out, it’s the pre-metamorphosis of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Their main food sources are parsley, dill, carrots, fennel, and parsnips. Without these, they’ll die.

Well. Crap.

What is next to my parsley? Dill. Below that? One carrot. Guess I won’t have any more dill or parsley. And maybe no carrot. Had the boys find where they’d put him, and return him to the parsley.  This is also what the majority of the article’s commenters did! Remove, Google, return. Buy more parsley as needed to keep them alive until they cocoon. Nice to see there are so many others with this mentality. Sometimes, ‘parasites’ are welcome 🙂 When deciding what’s important- our plants, or a butterfly- the decision was pretty easy to make.

Went out a little later to check on him, and a sibling appeared on the neighboring dill!

20140714_200911  20140714_201133

Aside from my family being in love with dill, it does attract butterflies, so I let it go to flower. Love the smell when the breeze hits! Last week, I spotted one of these guys’ parents fluttering about. It was breathtaking, but wouldn’t stop on anything long enough for me to snap a picture. I remember turning on my dill and accusing it of failing.

Oops. Sorry, dill.


2 thoughts on “Sacrificing the Plants

  1. Hello L. Nahay, I am so glad you found my site! If you are in the Western Massachusetts area this summer, my film “Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly” is playing at the Berkshire Museum on Saturday, August 16th. Best wishes, Kim

    1. Thank you, Kim! I’m glad I found your site as well! I am unfortunately pretty far from away and won’t be able to see it. My boys and I enjoyed the clip you posted on your site- how amazing that you’ll get to show it in a museum! The caterpillars become our newly-adopted ‘pets’. We keep checking on them (snapping more pictures), and hope they make it through our unnaturally rainy, cold summer. All the best on your film opening, L.

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