One of the nice things about gardening is that it’s not all about gardening.
Last summer while watering the dill plants we found a caterpillar. Although we like to think of ourselves as up to date in the bug department we went to the Audubon book for an identification. It turns out it was a swallowtail butterfly caterpillar.

swallowtail caterpillar

The butterflies lay eggs on plants favored by the caterpillar, in this case dill. It turns out that the swallowtail prefers plants in the Umbellifer family which included dill, parsley, fennel and carrots.
We brought the dill in to a safe spot so we could watch the whole affair with out interference from a hungry bird. In just a few days the caterpillar attached to the plant with 2 silken threads and began to harden into a chrysalis.

swallowtail chrysalis

We watched for about 10 days and then with out warning the butterfly emerged from the chrysalis. We looked around and soon found the butterfly on the window sill. It had dried it’s wings but was not quite ready for flight so we removed it to a sheltered part of the garden and left it alone.
Here is a picture of the swallowtail butterfly on a piece of cardboard as we were moving it to the garden.

swallowtail butterfly

Next season we will keep a sharp eye out for the caterpillars and we will tell our customers to watch for them as well.

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