Bronze Fennel is a favorite of Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars
I counted nine caterpillars on just one fennel plant this morning
Hungry as the caterpillars might be, fennel grows quickly and will survive their munching. This Osmanthus goshiki shrub doesn’t look like a good host plant, but is on the menu for this gigantic beast.
Every hungry caterpillar has the potential to open its wings as a beautiful butterfly one day soon.
You don’t need a large garden, or even a yard, to attract butterflies and provide habitat for their caterpillars. All the plants you need to provide will grow in pots on a deck or patio.
Host plants for the Eastern Black Swallowtail include parsley, fennel, and rue.
Learn more about which plants to include in a butterfly garden here and here.
After hearing more and more stories in the news about declining populations of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, it makes me very happy to see the butterfly population in our forest garden growing daily.
Courtney Langley wrote an encouraging piece in our local Virginia Gazette about the abundance of Hummingbird moths and hummingbirds spotted in our area this summer.
Read her article on Hummingbird moths here
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies prefer laying their eggs on the leaves of trees, like the Tulip Poplar.
Once the tiny caterpillars hatch, they will eat from the host plants until ready to form their chrysalis. While in the chrysalis they neither eat nor drink, but will be ready to enjoy nectar once they finally break out and spread their wings for the first time.
Whether your garden is large or small, it is important to never use pesticides in a wildlife garden. Cultivate a balance of plants, insects, birds, and other animals so that the cycles of nature keep problems in check. Never invite creatures to your garden, and then spray the very poisons which kill them.
Organic gardening practices ensure that many species can live in your garden in safety, raise their families, and add to the beauty and health of your garden.
All photos by Woodland Gnome