A few days ago, while I was watering the potted herbs on my desk, I spotted the following critters munching on some fennel.
Most of the time, I’m not pleased to find caterpillars making a meal of my plants, but these are swallowtail caterpillars. In fact, I planted the fennel in the hope of feeding these guys. A few years ago, I enlarged a nearby flower garden, focusing on plants that attract butterflies. When I started seeing lots of swallowtails, I decided that I should feed the caterpillars as well as the adults.
Six days later, the 4 caterpillars had munched on quite a bit of my fennel plant, so I headed for the garden center to buy three more. I hope there’s enough food to keep them around until it’s time for metamorphosis.
If you are interested in attracting butterflies to your yard, this website lists plants that provide food for caterpillars and nectar for the adult butterflies. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/butterflies/butterfly_index.html