Sunday, June 3, 2012


As a gardener, you probably know every nook and cranny of your garden. Then one day, as you look down at your plants,  SHAZZAM!
There it is; a new visitor!
 Today marks the first time I've had a black swallowtail caterpillar here in the garden. Why now? Because IF YOU PLANT IT THEY WILL COME. Butterflies endlessly move about searching for that special plant to lay their eggs. In the case of these black swallowtails, the magic plant was RUE.
Here's what I found today on the rue.

Rue is a gray green, finely textured herb. It's right in the front in this picuture of my garden. It's beautiful with other plants like these agaves.

Here's the adult black swallowtail compliments of Wikipedia.
I get this one confused with my other beautiful visitors, the Spicebush and the Giant swallowtail
since all three fly around very quickly!

Here's the Spicebush. Our camphor tree attracts these daily.
(another photo from Wikipedia)

Here's the caterpillar of the Spicebush Swallowtail on the camphor tree in our garden. Usually they are found only on the Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). However, the non-native Camphor tree ( Cinnamomum camphora) down here in the Deep South can also play host to the Spicebush due to similar chemical messages inside the leaves. It's odd, but I've seen it with my own eyes.
The Spicebush has several instars. Each time it changes in appearance dramatically.
Here's a view from another website:

And if you REALLY want to know about the Spicebush Swallowtail, here ya go:

And the last of the trio, the Giant Swallowtail. Our neighbors grow citrus and that's why they are always around.

Here it is! This was from last summer when it emerged from a chrysalis in our window.
It's less than one day old in this photo.
And of course if you plant milkweed, you'll get these; the beautiful caterpillars of the Monarch.

This is my best photo ever of a monarch. It was a cool day and it was just wanting to rest.

Hope you get some great butterflies this summer.
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Enjoy your caterpillars and butterflies! The rains came early for us this year and we didn't get to enjoy our butterflies.

  2. They just seem to appear from nowhere don't they? You have some gorgeous butterflies there in your garden!

  3. I really like seeing butterfly caterpillars in the garden. Thank you for sharing your visitors. I'm guessing the butterfly visitors are much less stressful than the raccoon visitors.

  4. What a handsome caterpillar. I will have to investigate the best butterfly-attracting plants for my garden. The only ones I have lots of are Blue Cycad Butterflies. They are pretty enough but they have the ugliest caterpillars (they look like leeches or slugs to me) and do terrible damage to the cycads.

  5. I tend to think of myself as a butterfly. I often find butterfly motifs or references in things I've bought after the fact.

  6. Hooray for you!! Rue is usually the first plant I find my caterpillars on, too, but this year they went for the fennel and parsley. The last caterpillar is a Giant Swallowtail caterpillar. They look like bird poo. :o) Spicebush caterpillars are only found on spicebushes and are solid green. I LOVE it when I find caterpillars. Makes me feel like I'm doing something right.

    1. Oh Dear Casa,
      Making me work on my summer off from school! OK, I did some digging and here's what I found.
      Yes, it does look exactly like the Giant Swallowtail bird poo caterpillars, but it's really a Spicebush. I promise.
      Here's the link-e-poo just for you. :0)

    2. The live link is found up in the body of the post. D/:0)

  7. Fabulous pictures! I think the caterpillars are as fascinating as the butterflies; the whole process is a miracle that plays itself out over and over again.

  8. David, Thanks for the photos and information on the butterflies. This year I have many more than last year. That is nice. I set up a Monarch Butterfly Feeding Station which I have posted about in the past if you look at the archives and that seems to be working.
    Enjoyed my visit again to your Blog. See you soon. Jack

  9. My cousin mailed seeds for butterfly weed. They're about 2-3" tall after the pinching she instructed me to do. I planted them near plumbago, coneflower, Indian blanket and pentas. Undecided which host plant I'll try for next, but will be planting more nectar flowers because they're pretty ^_^


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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