Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars

20190830 BSTA catapillers

I saw a Black Swallowtail butterfly near my garden parsley plant a few weeks ago. It landed briefly, and then took off. Apparently that was enough.

A week or so later I went out to cut some parsley for dinner, and found the scene above. At first I questioned if they were the Black Swallowtail because of their color. I learned that at that size the caterpillars are a black color with the white saddle.  This shot shows three or four different sizes, all slightly different but none looking like the caterpillar in most field guides.

A few days later I checked again and found the caterpillar I recognize. They covered the parsley stems, the leaves completely gone. Not too long after this shot, they left one by one to find greener pastures. I haven’t replaced the parsley plant yet, but I think I will replace it with several plants. A few years ago I kept several parsley plants at any given time since the Black Swallowtails loved to lay their eggs there. They disappeared for a few years, and I downsized to one large plant. It appears they are back.20190902 BSTA caterpillars 4 days later

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