Friday, May 23, 2014

Parsley Worms Eating All My Dill

The larvae of the Black Swallowtail butterfly are known as "parsley worms" because they feed on members of the Apiaceae family, which includes parsley, dill, fennel, cilantro, carrots, and parsnips. Last year I planted a lot of parsley, and figured it would be enough for both me and the swallowtails. Right now it's starting to flower, and I plan on letting it drop its seeds and regrow.

So did I get parsley worms on my parsley? No, of course not! Instead, they are completely ravaging my dill and fennel, when I only have a few plants of each.

Here's a large one chomping away. They do have really cool markings. Interestingly, you'd think they'd really stand out, but the striped pattern actually breaks up their outlines and helps them camouflage among the feathery foliage.

This picture shows how they look when they're smaller (on the left) compared to a larger one on the right.

I was going to let my dill drop seeds too, but at the rate they're going, there will be no dill flowers left to make seeds. They seem to like the flower heads the best.

Now the flower heads have almost nothing left. So much for saving dill seeds this year.

Except I just don't have the heart to do anything to them. They've become like my pets. I know, it's prejudice, because I have no problem killing tomato hornworms.

Guess I'll just have to accept that I'll have a much bigger crop of butterflies this year instead of dill.

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