Eggs in the garden

Black swallowtail caterpillars at the Natureworks' butterfly workshop Saturday.

I attended a workshop on black swallowtail butterflies on Saturday at Natureworks, one of my local garden centers. It was one of my rare Saturdays off from work, and I was excited to be able to attend. Butterflies is one insect that I enjoy photographing regularly in my garden.

I've seen black swallowtail butterflies in my garden in the past, but never gave them too much thought (my eye is always searching for the monarch). It turns out that black swallowtail butterflies actually complete their entire life cycle in Connecticut.

In the workshop, butterfly experts Merilyn Sandberg and Helen Stowe, along with Natureworks employee Diane St John, explained the life cycle of the butterflies. Samples of eggs that were laid on dill and fennel were passed around, as well as various caterpillars in different growth cycles. Black swallowtail caterpillars also eat parsley, parsnips, carrots or rue. The insect is an egg for approximately 7 days, a caterpillar for approximately 10 days and it will be inside its chrysalis for approximately 10 days.

A black swallowtail egg on my carrot tops outside.

On Sunday I went outside to water the garden (we've had several days of temperatures in the 90s), and I spied a black swallowtail butterfly flitting about the carrots. Later that evening when I went outside to gather dinner for the rabbits, I checked the carrot tops. I found two eggs! (No more carrot tops for the bunnies now!)

Last year I had two caterpillars on my carrot tops, but I lost track of them after that. Not this year. I snipped the two carrot tops off and brought them inside.

Today, I went outside to check again, and I found two more eggs! I brought them inside as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen.

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