Black Swallowtail Caterpillar


I have been watching the Black Swallowtail caterpillar on the dill grow since they were first laid as an egg. There were three caterpillars and now only one can be found. The photo below shows one of the caterpillars nine days ago.


It is growing and becoming more noticeable to birds and insect predators, so its days may be numbered like its siblings. Even though not having filled the bird feeders, birds are still very active in the garden. I can only surmise they are living off the insects and maybe some early seed producing plants.



Much happens, even in a small garden.

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15 Responses to Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

  1. connie661 says:

    That is so cool! I had a bunch of cabbage butterflies in my screen porch, so I think they might have been on the lettuce I had in a pot, though I never saw any caterpillars or cocoons.

  2. I said the same thing as Connie. This is so cool ! Love the captures, and the story of the transformation. You should bottle this one so you can see it become a butterfly. 🙂

  3. Nancy Mehuys says:

    Great great beautiful pictures !!!!! Nice done 🙂

  4. A.M.B. says:

    “Much happens, even in a small garden.”

    So true! My daughters are always on the “look out” for caterpillars in our garden. I’m terrible at identifying them.

    We also haven’t been filling our bird feeders this summer, but the birds have been very active in our garden. I’m hoping we’ll have monarda next summer to attract hummingbirds (though we did find one hummingbird in our zinnia bed this year–I thought that was a weird place to find one!).

    • donna213 says:

      I am not sure I would have gotten this one right if I did not see the butterfly lay the eggs. I usually see this caterpillar darker in color. The instar was the right color though. Glad you have gotten a hummingbird. They are fun to watch.

  5. Pat says:

    Great captures.

  6. These are spectacular images of this wonderful creature -such detail! I’ll be rooting for him to make it. Do you know how much longer till he builds a chrysalis and transforms?!!

    • donna213 says:

      The pupal stage lasts nine to 18 days except for overwintering pupae. I am not sure where this third instar is in development. All three of them were different ages by a few days and the two bigger ones are gone. Maybe I should look for them on other plants hanging as a pupae. The where only second instar though, so I think they got eaten.

  7. I really like the last photo.

  8. I usually have several dill, parsley or fennel in the garden for the swallowtails but I haven’t noticed any caterpillars this year….

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