Black Swallowtail and Apiaceae

Top Photo: Black swallowtail caterpillar on carrot.

Along with the monarch butterfly caterpillar, the black swallowtail is one of the most familiar butterfly caterpillars. Anyone who has grown carrots, parsley, fennel, or any other plant in the Apiaceae family of plants has, at one time or another, had the black, yellow, and green caterpillars happily devouring the plants before their eyes.

Many people, myself included, plant parsley or fennel specifically to attract the butterflies and watch them go through their complete cycle, egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.

Fresh black swallowtail egg on parsley.
Egg is ready to hatch.
Early instar caterpillar.
Caterpillar showing irritation and therefore displaying its osmeterium.
Ready to pupate.
Completed chrysalis.

If you haven’t grown parsley or fennel on you back porch or deck to attract these butterflies, give it a try. It’s fascinating watching them go through the various stages of their lives.

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