Tuesday, May 26, 2015


This spring I had the fortune of witnessing an emergence, or rather seeing the result of one, the chrysallis I had sheltered all winter was split open at the top and a small black swallowtail butterfly was gently fanning its wings perched on the screened windows of my back porch.

I had seen the female black swallowtail last August as it lingered by my fennel plant- not knowing why it was on fennel that had no blossoms I did some research and realized fennel (along with parsley and dill) is one of the host plants to the caterpillars. Much later - after keeping an eye out for it- the caterpillar was large enough to recognize and I took it in to offer it what protection and hospitality I could.
This youngster would eat only fennel. Fennel and fennel and more fennel. Raising itself up on its hind legs it guided the delicate, anise scented fronds to its mouth.

Finally late in the fall it went into pupae state emerging on Sunday, May 10th to my surprise and delight. Since then I have seen it twice in my backyard checking out the yard and hopefully noticing that, earlier than ever before, I have planted large fennel plants hoping for another guest this year. Guess you could say I don't have a butterfly garden I have one for caterpillars.

Here is a short video of the black swallowtail one day old on the back porch before I set it free.


Holding the just emerged black swallowtail.