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Black Swallowtail

Host Plant(s): Traditionally, Fennel, Parsley, and Dill have been used to feed Black Swallowtail caterpillars. In my experience Dill is their least favorite. Also, my experience has been that they prefer flat-leafed Parsley to the curly-leafed kind. And green Fennel over bronze, though I have seen eggs laid, and raised caterpillars, on the bronze. If you have a choice in your garden, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to spot eggs and caterpillars on Fennel than it is on Parsley.

Recently I’ve shifted to sometimes using Water Hemlock as a host for these caterpillars. Water Hemlock is a Florida native, and can be found growing in water-filled ditches by the side of roads. You can grow it in a non-porous bucket or pot, or a pond (it likes to be in standing water). The (serious) downside is that it’s highly poisonous — the most poisonous plant in the Americas, in fact — so if you have children or pets that like to munch vegatation, it’s dangerous.

Click on any of these thumbnails for a larger image:

Comment

Do you know if the hibernate???

— Connie · 17 January 2011, 11:18 · #

Butterflies don’t hibernate in their butterfly form, but some species, including Black and Giant Swallowtails, will often “over-winter” in their chrysalises. I’ve had Black Swallowtail butterflies emerge after spending months in chrysalis, so if you have some chrysalises that go back a ways, be patient.

Some butterfly species also over-winter as caterpillars. Some wrap themselves in a leaf for shelter, pulling the leaf into a tube around them and fastening it closed with “silk”.

— Greg · 28 January 2011, 08:35 · #

The one caterpillar photo, and the two butterfly photos, were all very, very, very, beautiful!!! Daniel.

— Daniel · 14 July 2011, 08:08 · #

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