Gift #29: Swallowtail caterpillar

This week marked a momentous occasion in the seasonal calendar.  Starting at the beginning of May, when my rue is leafing, I have to check everyday for swallowtail caterpillars.  I first noticed them 3 years ago.  there were several tiny, black shriveled looking things on my herb.  Not knowing whether they were friend or foe, out came the trusty Audubon field guide for insects and spiders.  I deduced that they were a larvae of some sort.  After some sleuthing, I had a match.  And joy, of joys, they were swallowtails!!!  These little bumpy, squishy things were going to become beautiful yellow and black butterflies!  Well, I was delighted that the mother had chosen my plant to raise her brood, and I checked their progress every day.  They grew bigger and bigger and started to develop yellow, black, and green stripes.  And then they got really big!  It’s a good thing that my rue is so healthy because those caterpillars eat a bunch of leaves.  I never saw a chrysalis, but later in the season, we have lots of swallowtails in the area.  So I’m hoping that a few of the crop made it to adulthood. 

Since then it’s become an annual tradition to monitor the rue like a crazed maniac, searching the leaves with zeal for any trace of the larvae.  Then, there’s counting them everyday, measuring how big they’re getting, etc.  Do they have enough to eat?  Is the sunlight too much for them?  Are they too exposed to predators?  I worry over them like a parent (ok, maybe not that much).  They are a joy to watch grow, millimeter by millimeter, into a magnificent butterfly. 


My first swallowtail caterpillar of the year

May joy be yours today.


Blessings to you,


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3 Responses to Gift #29: Swallowtail caterpillar

  1. Amazing, and very pretty too 🙂

  2. Pingback: Black Swallowtail Caterpillar: Persnickity Portrait Subject « Reinventing Claire

  3. sheila365 says:

    I love that you are documenting the gifts you see in your life 🙂

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