Swallowtail Caterpillars

I love going out to garden and finding my dill, parsley, and rue plants full of the Swallowtail caterpillars.  Yep, they pretty much demolish some of my plants but I don’t mind at all.  When they go floating by me while I’m working, or when my children carry them to me on their hands, I am determined to feed these caterpillars even more.

Today I had the kids in my homestead tour group come over to look at the dill plant.  I asked them, “What do you see?”

It took them a little bit but eventually they noticed the caterpillars… and we talked about camouflage  and how it helped the caterpillars.  And then I had them poke the caterpillar and sniff the air…

I love taking pictures of these guys, they don’t move very fast and that’s extremely helpful to a person like me with a camera 🙂

They’re beautiful….

Here’s what the experts say about them.

Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies that form the family Papilionidae. There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies of Australia (genus Ornithoptera).[1]

Swallowtails differ from all other butterflies in a number of anatomical traits.

Many swallowtail butterfly caterpillars have attractive colors and patterns, and most of them have a bad-smelling, orange-colored, y-shaped “osmetrium” just behind the head which is turned inside out when the caterpillar feels threatened.

We’ve also collected the chrysalises and put them in a jar and waited for the butterflies to emerge.  It’s a fascinating project and the kids love it.

Butterflies are great pollinators so it’s worth the sacrifice of a few plants!


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