Another use for parsley
April 17, 2012 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Who's this eating my parsley? I haven't found much use for the herb but in a few dishes, but these critters are having a feast.

I have two different types of caterpillars munching on my parsley. There's enough to go around since it's just me and the bugs eating on the stuff. I'm happy to share. But, who are they and who are they going to turn into when they grow up to be big and strong?
posted by mightshould to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The big one is the caterpillar for a black swallowtail butterfly.
posted by jquinby at 9:40 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: ..actually, they both are. The smaller of the two looks like an earlier stage.
posted by jquinby at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2012

I grew parsley for those critters when I was a kid. I saw a black swallowtail butterfly on Sunday and was thinking about doing it again.
posted by Ery at 9:51 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

They also love dill. Have planted a big batch of dill for them.
posted by govtdrone at 11:14 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to play with those from my parents' garden every summer as a kid; they are easy to raise in a container and do indeed turn into beatiful Black Swallowtails; so if you have kids that might be a fun project for them, as reccommended by the National Trust. Just watch out for the osmeterium!
posted by TedW at 11:27 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, definitely black swallowtail.
posted by plinth at 11:46 AM on April 17, 2012

Yep. If you are blessed you will see the chrysalis and then the emerging butterfly like I did. Way cool!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2012

govtdrone: "They also love dill. Have planted a big batch of dill for them"

My first encounter with the caterpillar -> butterfly transition was with Black Swallowtails that were eating my mom's dill plants, as opposed to the Monarchs everyone else seems to remember.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 1:38 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I plant parsley just to attract black swallowtails, too. If you keep planting in the same place, they'll keep coming back. A little parsley is a small price to pay for repeat visits from such impressive creatures.
posted by BlueJae at 8:13 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Y'all are great: Answer in a minute.

The caterpillars are still happily munching on the parsley. They haven't bothered the dill or cilantro in the pot that's next to it.

I'll transplant the parsley into the yard since it's bolting and I have replacement seedlings ready to pot out. Will report back if they stick around and make awesome butterflies.
posted by mightshould at 9:37 AM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: I added blackseallowtail to the tags.
posted by mightshould at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: I never saw any crysalis since they managed to eat the plants down to the stalks and left for better food sources. However, I did see many of the beauties flitting about the butterfly bush late this summer.
posted by mightshould at 4:46 AM on October 9, 2012

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