Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

See I knew there was a good reason to plant the Queen Anne’s Lace seeds last fall.  The carrot family which includes this as well as dill, parsley and fennel is the host plant for the Black Swallowtail Caterpillar.  They lay their eggs on this family of plants.  I didn’t look close enough to notice the small yellow eggs, but I have seen quite a few of these flying beauties in the garden this summer.   Here’s some more info on this wonderful creature:

  • Also called the American or Parsnip Swallowtail
  • Found through most of North America
  • Wingspan of 8-11 centimeters
  • Upper surface of wing is mostly black
  • Has a black spot centered in a large orange spot on hindwing
  • Males have a yellow band near the edge of their wings
  • Females have a row of yellow spots and a blue band
  • They are also found to eat Bishop’s Weed
  • They have a forked gland that releases an odor to repel predators
  • Nectar plants for the butterflies include Joe Pye Weed, Zinnia, Coneflowers and Phlox

9 responses to this post.

  1. What a pretty looking caterpillar. We only get ones that look scary!

    If you plant some butterfly host plants you can get the pretty ones too. 🙂


  2. I did not know they liked Queen Ann’s Lace. We could use several hundred caterpillars at work to eat up our surplus.

    Me neither Les. Learn something new everyday huh? 😉 Yep you have a smorgasboard to keep several hundred of these happy.


  3. There is something so pretty about this caterpillar, and a monarch caterpillar too. And they are so interesting to watch. Great picture
    Racquel–and good information. Thanks!!

    YW Linda, but actually this is the Black Swallowtail caterpillar. It looks similar to the Monarch except it has dots on the back vs stripes. 🙂


  4. exciting

    Yep I was pretty thrilled and their still at work today. 🙂


  5. We actually saw two of these guys at work yesterday on the dill. I think they are so fun to watch.

    I agree they are fun to watch and they are making mincemeat of the blooms on this QAL as we speak. 🙂


  6. Congratulations on your baby cat! 🙂 I never knew caterpillars could be so cute until I started butterfly gardening.

    Thanks Cameron, they are pretty adorable huh? 🙂


  7. Well that is a good reason to plant Queen Anne’s lace for sure. Awesome!

    Yep even though it has it tends to be a heavy reseeder. 🙂


  8. How exciting, Racquel! I keep checking my parsley and dill, but I haven’t found any signs of catts yet.

    Hopefully you will see signs soon Rose. 🙂


  9. I need to increase my host plants Racquel ~ I’d love to have some of these beautiful caterpillars in my garden! I hope you get to see the whole transformation.

    Glad I could inspire you to add more of these wonderful host plants for these creatures Kathleen. 🙂 I hope I do too, that would be so cool.


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