|Boo and Ohno|
But we have other cats, too. Caterpillars. And right now there seems to be an abundance of them as we head into fall. One day this week, I counted 13 Eastern black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars on the parsley, dill, and bronze fennel and 16 monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars on the various types of milkweed that we have growing in Max's Garden. I'm sure there are more. Ironically, I've only seen one Eastern black swallowtail butterfly flying around the garden this summer. But clearly, they've been here.
|Monarch caterpillar on Bloomerang lilac leaf. Since they only eat |
Asclepias (milkweed plants), perhaps he's making his way
to the site where he'll form his chrysalis.
|Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar on bronze fennel|
The two caterpillars look quite similar, with both having stripes, but the swallowtails have black and green stripes with yellow and black dots while the monarchs have black, yellow, and white stripes only. And you won't find either of them on each others' host plants.
Video of swallowtail and monarch caterpillars in our garden
(If you're receiving this via e-mail, this video will not be visible. Click on the title of the blog post - Cats in the Garden - and it will take you to my blog, where you can then view the entire blog post, including the video.)
When I was out inspecting the host plants this week, I happened upon a swallowtail caterpillar shedding his skin. They do this several times as they grow.
|Eastern black swallowtail shedding its skin on bronze fennel|
The swallowtail cats that pupate in late summer will spend the frigid winter in their chrysalis and emerge from it next spring. Their monarch counterparts will pupate and emerge about 11 days later and then make the long trip to Mexico where they will spend the winter before flying back in the spring. Both are simply miraculous acts.
If you visit my garden, I'll make you listen to stories about this plant and that one. They're my children, you know, these plants. But I'll also show you the other babies growing in my garden. This spring, it would have been the young frogs that we had by the tens, hopping about the garden, in and out of the little ponds. Today, it's the caterpillars.
|Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars on dill|