Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eastern Black Swallowtail

Eastern Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm

I posted this picture of a Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly on my For The Love of Gardening facebook page.  It's the first one in my garden this year and was perfect (along the end of the summer they begin to look tattered from attacks and weather.)  

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar on Sage

I keep a variety of herbs in my yard not only for cooking but for butterflies.  Rue and dill are two butterfly favorites during the caterpillar stages.  Rue isn't a flavor I want to have in food but it is a pretty little plant both to me and the butterflies.

I have to plant dill every few years because it runs it course.  I always need more because the caterpillars will pretty much strip it down to nothing.  This coincides with it being a young plant so I know I'll loose some to these hardy eaters.

Eastern Black Swallowtail 
on Phlox
As I was researching this article, I saw many articles telling readers to use chemicals to kill the caterpillars on their herbs.  WOW, where do these people  think their butterflies come from?  If you need your herbs for other uses, tie a mesh net over these plants until it gets older and plant enough uncovered plants to feed the caterpillars.  I grant you the quick fix is chemical but I question if it's the right fix for the long term benefit.  Not only will these chemicals kill the butterfly caterpillars but other beneficial insects that might wander onto the plants - many needed for pollination purposes   I'm, also, not real good with the chemical residue on these plants if they are to be used for human food purposes.  If you're a herb farmer, using your plants as an income source, I urge you to look at using the least harmful of protection available.  

  Check out the chart on "What butterflies eat" on

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