Here at Little St. Simons Island, we take pride in all the organics that our on-site garden produces. Sometimes, we even get excited about the pests!
This Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) hatched out of a chrysalis found in our garden. The pale green chrysalis hung by a thread on a stem. We relocated it to a mesh enclosure in the lodge to wait for the adult to emerge. Sure enough, a few days later, the black butterfly clung to the mesh with wet folded wings. Within a few hours, the wings had dried out and were fully extended to about 3 inches across, and he flew freely back out into the wild.
The Black Swallowtail has black wings parallel bands of yellow spots along the margins on its wings. In between the bands of yellow are shorter bands of blue that end at a red eyespot on each wing.
The females will lay their eggs on members of the parsley family (carrots, fennel, dill) and the caterpillars will hatch out, munch on their host plant while they grow and molt. When they are ready to form their chrysalis, they usually wander a bit from their feeding grounds.
We have an abundance of Black Swallowtail larvae, sometimes called parsley worms, on the parsley in our garden right now. As you might imagine, Black Swallowtails are fairly easy to attract by planting some parsley in your garden. And of course, it is always a beautiful surprise to see the adult butterfly emerge from the lifeless-looking chrysalis!
Some other butterflies that have been spotted this spring include the Cabbage Whites, Red Admirals, Monarchs, and many more that are soon to follow!