Friday, July 9, 2010

Swallowtail Butterfly Cats!

A week or so ago I watched this lovely lady zip around my garden.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly on Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago)
Here she is, below, on my Lamium (Spotted Dead Nettle).


I was hoping she would find the pot of parsley on my deck.

As you can see, she did! Or if it wasn't her, it was one of her counterparts, a black swallowtail or eastern swallowtail butterfly. I have seen all 3 varieties at one time or another.


I found 6 of these little pearl-like eggs!


The next day--just yesterday--I went to check on them, and they looked like this.


Overnight, the caterpillars inside grew so much the eggs looked like drops of mercury upon the leaves!


Yesterday afternoon, I checked on them again.


Can you believe that during the day, those cats had eaten through the egg casing and were sitting on the leaves, munching away?! They were no more than 1/8th of an inch in size. Guess how many I counted? TEN! Those eggs are so tiny I apparently missed some when I first counted--even with my reading glasses on;-)


I will be watching these babies as they grow, and hope that they will survive and become large swallowtail cats, then pupate, and become butterflies themselves. I will try to take pictures as it happens, but I am going to be away from home on and off and may end up missing some of it. I'll certainly document what I see while I'm here, though! *These cats are Black Swallowtails, so the Spicebush Swallowtail pictured above is NOT their mama (thanks to Randy of Randy and Meg's Garden Paradise).

Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Today I am thankful for the small miracles that happen every day!


Words and photos ©Thanks For Today, by Jan Huston Doble

27 comments:

  1. You got photos of the eggs! That is great. Thank you for the time lapse of the hatching. More butterflies!

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  2. Now I'm inspired to grow some parsley next year just for the butterflies! I've got some fennel but I started it too late - three plants but they're all still very small.

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  3. Wonderful shots of the miracle of birth! :-)

    We have BST cats on the bronze fennel. Some are big boys right now and my husband couldn't believe as we stood and watched them devouring the plant. They are cute!

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  4. Jan,
    Exciting isn't it? Meg will be teaching 2nd grade this year we planted dill for the kids. Hate to bust your bubble but the swallowtail photo there is a Spicebush Swallowtail. Hugs!

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  5. Thanks everyone;-)
    Randy, thanks for the correct ID. The swallowtail varieties all look so similar to me--I should have asked you first! On my sidebar, can you tell me if I've ID'd the 2 correctly that are featured?

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  6. That is too cool for words. Very interesting.

    Jen

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  7. How lucky that they laid eggs there. I hope you get to watch the whole cycle. We finally have seen some Swallowtails here, but unfortunately the dill I bought for them was eaten by the slugs. Guess I need to put some more out.

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  8. Hi Jan~~ I love them. Very cool cats!! What a great idea to chronicle their development.

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  9. Jan, One year I went away camping for a couple of weeks, and when I came home my parsley consisted of stripped stems, each with a big fat caterpillar (looking for all the world like cartoon characters) on it. Since I had planted the parsley for my own use rather than for the purpose of attracting butterfly eggs, I wasn't as enthralled as you are. -Jean

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  10. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! I can't believe what a good job you did capturing the process of egg to cat! I've never seen the eggs or the little cats so these are way cool to me. I hope you can catch them when they begin to pupate too. Have a great time and here's hoping it cools down a bit for you.

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  11. Well I didn't know and you've taught me what they look like. The whole process of birth is fascinating no matter the creature.

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  12. I'll be watching this metamorphosis in progress. How neat that you could catch it. They are such gorgeous creatures.

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  13. How exciting, Jan! I've been watching for signs of catts on my parsley and fennel, but so far no luck. I'll have to look a little closer to see if there are eggs. I haven't checked the butterfly weed lately, though, which I hope the Monarchs found.

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  14. 9 of my black swallowtails recently left the fennel to turn into butterflies. you might be interested in my monarch article I just posted on my blog, btw.

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  15. LUCKY!
    I must put parsley outside, but the pesky sparrows that live on my deck might eat the butterflies.
    I love butterflies so much I don't think I'm going to be able to stop getting them and moths tattooed on me.

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  16. Wow, thank you so much for sharing that, it was fascinating! I do have parsley and I have seen swallowtails, but I haven't seen eggs. Better look more closely.

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  17. Since I turned to my garden into a butterfly friendly garden, I also spend hours outside taking pictures of the visiting butterflies and looking for eggs and caterpillars

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  18. Hi Jan. I love the pictures and story of the butterflies in your garden.I just wonder how many times I have unknowingly destroyed butterfly eggs without knowing. I never even knew what they looked like before the blogging world.
    Hope you are having a lovely summer and have a great weekend.
    Lona

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  19. aloha,

    love the story jan, good thing you didn't pick the pearls and string them into a necklace :)

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  20. Jan, I've seen these butterflies around my garden lately, especially in the early morning -- and your post means I'm off to inspect my parsley in the morning. Of course, it bolted months ago with the first heat, and there aren't that many leaves showing now when it's virtually dormant in the summer blaze, but I'm crossing my fingers for little baby caterpillars. Thank you for alerting me to this nice pairing -- and for those wonderful, detailed photos!

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  21. What wonderful photos Jan! I've never seen that stage of their development before. How exciting!

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  22. Beautiful photos of the butterfly, amazing! Wonderful garden you have.

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  23. Great post. We don't have the spicebush swallowtails in this area and I have only seen one E T Swallowtail so far in my garden this season. Hope more show up soon. The phlox are blooming and those are a favorite.
    Marnie

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  24. How lovely! A whole new generation of Swallowtails in your garden. Enjoy your time away.

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  25. Jan, I have lots of swallowtails, and a nice bed of parsley. So every day I am examining the parsley for eggs. Your photographs are awesome. Pam x

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  26. What an incredible post! How lucky to have captured so much of their life story. The eggs are so very lovely, like tiny little pearls.

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  27. Wow! Great pictures! Now I know what to look for in my own garden!

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Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!

Jan

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