Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Garden (and Nature) Bloggers Saved a Butterfly

I don't know much about bugs.  Some are beneficial; some are pests.  Some can be bright and colorful; some are downright ugly; others are truly frightening.  I don't want any of them crawling on me.

I'm not very good at identifying bugs.  The one big caterpillar I know by sight is the tomato hornworm, which thankfully I haven't spotted in several years.  I did learn just recently, from a garden blog (I wish I remembered which one!), that it is the larval form of the sphinx moth.  Nifty, but I'm still going to squash the next one I find.

The other day I saw this on an onion stalk:

 A similar size and shape to a hornworm (slightly smaller), but brightly colored and rather pretty.  I might have squashed it anyway, but I remembered some Casa Mariposa posts on eastern swallowtail caterpillars, and thought this might be one.  Of course, if it were a swallowtail, shouldn't it be feasting on my parsley or carrot leaves?  What was it doing on an onion?

I came in and looked up the post I thought I remembered.  Nope, not my caterpillar.  Mine looks like this:

The caterpillar that looked like mine I'd actually seen at The Natural Capital, here.  It is a monarch caterpillar.  Ok, that's good, too.  Now I know why it wasn't on the parsley, but I don't know why it was so far from the milkweed!


  1. Very cool. I have been hoping to see one as we ride our bikes past milkweed in the country but haven't picked one out yet at 9 mph. Ha!

    1. They're hard to spot at 1 mph. You' need rather exceptional eyes for 9mph, I think.

  2. That is so funny that it is hanging out on your onions! I wonder how on earth it got there :)
    Swallowtails also eat Rue- so if you like those caterpillars, but don't want them eating up all of your parsley, you can plant some rue and when you see them on the parsley, transfer them over. (Just be careful with rue because it causes a skin reaction in some people, similar to poison ivy I've heard.)

    1. Thanks for visiting, Samantha. And thanks for the tips on rue. I've had rue in my garden for years, but had never seen a caterpillar on it - until today!