Subject: Caterpillars
Location: Omaha Nebraska
July 21, 2013 2:34 pm
I wrote yesterday about the black colored swallowtail a while ago that visited my parsley. Today I am noticing a few of these little guys munching it. I didn’t think it would be the offspring of that butterfly considering it didn’t stay for more than a moment. I don’t mind too much, as we don’t use very much of the parsley, but I would like to know what it is going to be and what else it usually munches. I have already had cabbage loopers that I had to remove from my broccoli, but unlike those, these are very brightly colored and still very tiny. They’re near where my fingers are in the image, I couldn’t get my camera to focus on them any closer.
Signature: lyredragon

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear lyredragon,
We wrote back to you about your Black Swallowtail,
Papilio polyxenes, and that the larval food plants are in the umbel family including Parsley and that the female Black Swallowtail in your photo was in the act of ovipositing.  These two guys/gals are of slightly different (we believe a single instar difference) ages, and we are speculating that the female you photographed ovipositing in this plant may visit the plant on a regular basis to deposit a single egg a day to ensure that at least one of her offspring will be able to survive on your verdant pasture of a parsley plant.  We have to call your caterpillars Parsley Worms which is cited on BugGuide.  They will change color and markings as they molt and grow.

Parsley Worm, early instar

Parsley Worm, early instar

July 23, 2013 7:37 pm
http://youtu.be/Rgqi1PaWTEc
Just keeping you all abreast of the caterpillar growth. This is a youtube video of my parsley worms that I took tonight (July 23, 2013) they were being really active. I was watching them cast their frass with their mandibles, chew on the leaves, they were even eating smaller instars, I think, either that, or cleaning up their old skin castoffs. I tried to get a picture of them doing that, but it had eaten it until it was not recognizable by the time I got back. They’re very quick about eating
Signature: lyredragon

Dear lyredragon,
Thank you for the update.

 

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

5 Responses to Parsley Worms on Parsley

  1. lyredragon says:

    I don’t mind sharing with them. I don’t eat too much of it anyway. I use only organic fertilizers (North atlantic kelp and fish hydrolysate) and no pesticides at all on my plants. I was taking count, there are about 10 of them that I could see after going back out and counting them.

    • bugman says:

      We hope to get further updates as the Parsley Worms grow and transform.

      • lyredragon says:

        should I provide something more sturdy for it to make its chrysalis on when it is time? What would work best?

        • bugman says:

          This would depend upon how involved you decide to get. You can create a habitat out of an old aquarium with a screen lid to allow air circulation. If the parsley plant is in a pot, you can keep the potted parsley in the habitat. Some vertical sticks or sticks at a slight angle will provide a nice support for the chrysalis which is held upright with a girdle of silk. See the image of a Black Swallowtail Chrysalis and you can read more about techniques at the Raising Butterflies website.

  2. Emma says:

    This is fascianating thank you.

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