Ugly Little Caterpillars

Monday afternoon I went out on the deck to water the plants and saw loads of ugly little caterpillars eating my parsley!  I counted over a dozen!  I wavered between being irritated that they were eating my parsley and intrigued by what kind of caterpillars they are.  I came in and went online, but I had trouble finding a match at first.  While site upon site told me about eastern black swallowtails eating parsley, the photos I found didn’t match what I saw.  I finally stumbled across a photo of an eastern black swallowtail in its first instar, and that was a match.  It’s amazing how much the appearance of the caterpillar changes over time, as these small ones look nothing like what they will look like.

they already look quite different

That night, and again the next morning, I cleaned out our caterpillar enclosure that we’d used with the Monarchs.  I cut off some of the parsley and put it in jars of water inside the enclosure, bringing in a total of six caterpillars.  I didn’t want to bring them all in, since there were so many, but I also didn’t want to leave them to destroy my parsley.  The benefit of knowing other homeschool families, though, is that I was able to give the other caterpillars to one of them.  However, I had another problem, in that the parsley wilts rather quickly.  So I just went out and got a small parsley plant to put in the enclosure with them.  Now we’re all enjoying having caterpillars in the house again, and I hope we have success with the butterflies.

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