Thursday, August 27, 2009

When pretty goes bad

Oh, my love and hate for the swallowtail butterflies and the massive larvae they pump out.

They're like models of the natural world except for being super-parsley/cilantro/parsnip-eater-destroyers as children and then gorgeous pollen spreading humanitarians sipping nectar cocktails in the garden. All on my tab.

Their presence makes my garden look better if you like butterflies, but not if you want some veggies... which is what I care more for than the visual interest. Sorry, my stomach fights my eyes and wins all the time. If you've cooked the creations I have you can forgive unpretty food.

Swallowtail caterpillar larvae in reference to my pinky finger. (Click on the pics to see the detail on the caterpillars)

These are the larva at various stages of development. I usually notice them when they're HUGE, as big as my thumb and really chomping away. (This really doesn't show what great powers of perception I have, does it?)

The small guys here produce little balls of black frass that collect on the plant stems/leaves, a helpful way to notice their presence and the big guys, if you don't notice them at first in all their glory, leave behind large collections as round as half a pinky-nail. You can usually track them from there. Wow, sounds all hunter-prey-like except on an exceptionally smaller scale... and less tasty.

I have been finding quite a few newly emerging butterflies looking all pillow-eyed and cocoon wrinkled.

Another one: needing a tan and some fluids to PUMP HER UP! (You know, they need fluids to pump through their wings to expand them? I would NEVER suggest the butterflies are on 'roids!)

There must be at least 2 generations that occur during the growing season here because I have encountered some of the ginormous caterpillers once already this year and now I am seeing these little guys once again.

Having no heart to squish caterpillars *unless they're hornworms* I tossed these back onto some chrysanthemums and will let them make it back on their own. Give my parsnips some time to recoup before they are dined upon again.

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