Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars on Parsley

Subject: Pleasant Surprise!
Location: West Losangeles
May 26, 2017 11:41 am
Hi Bugman,
I’ve been planting fennel for years to attract anise swallowtail butterflies with sporadic success. Can’t tell you how surprised I was to see a parsley plant covered with caterpillars. I counted 14, but there are probably more. Did a bit of research and learned the plants the larvae eat are in the carrot family, so, I guess parsley is in the carrot family?
One thing I didn’t like about fennel is the caterpillars are exposed and easily seen by predators. With parsley, at least when they are small, the caterpillars are hidden by leaves.
Thx, Jeff
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

Congratulations Jeff,
We are concerned that 14 caterpillars will soon defoliate your parsley plant and that without any food, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars will starve before reaching maturity.  You might want to consider buying a few more parsley plants to help ensure survival.  We occasionally find Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars munching on carrots and parsley in our own garden.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

Hi Daniel,
More parley is on my list.
I have another question for you: Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of the butterflies we’ve lured into our back yard (including caterpillars, chrysalises and eggs). Would you be interested in them or know of any organizations that could use them?
Thx, Jeff

Hi Jeff,
Hundreds arriving at one time would be overwhelming for our tiny staff, but trickling them in slowly to our site would be wonderful.  Please continue to use our standard form for submissions and please confine your submissions to a single species.  Eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides and imagos or adults of the same species arriving together though would be most welcome.  We are especially curious when you first documented the Giant Swallowtail and its caterpillar the Orange Dog as this species was first reported in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, we believe.

2 thoughts on “Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars on Parsley”

  1. Hi. I moved to North Eastern Pa a couple of years ago & have a small herb garden. But planted a lot of parsley this year. I spotted the Anise swallow Caterpillar today and just saw your site. Please tell me what happens to them and when do they go from caterpillar to butterflies? they are so pretty in this stage, and I definitely want to protect them from other predators. What would eat them? And how can I protect them?

    • Considering your location, you did not observe Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars, but rather Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, Papilio polyxenes. A web search should easily provide you with numerous images of an adult Black Swallowtail. BugGuide has information you has information you might find interesting. Prior to metamorphosis into the adult, the caterpillar transforms into a pupa. Predators include birds and wasps.


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