Nature Break


A late spring project for the teacher in the house: Raising some anise swallowtail caterpillars/butterflies. We’ve got three in a nice little plastic crate habitat on the dining room table. The two visible here (on some fennel, one of the species’ preferred foods) are both in their chrysalises now; a third one that didn’t look like it was going to make it developed later and looks like it will go into its chrysalis soon. Two things about these bugs: One, despite growing up with the “knowledge” that moths come from cocoons and butterflies from chrysalises, I’ve never seen the process in action before (Elle, a friend of Thom’s, brought over a bunch of fennel that had caterpillar eggs on the branches). Two, though I’ve seen this creature in both caterpillar and butterfly form, I never had any idea that they were associated (mostly) with the fennel that grows everywhere here.

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2 Replies to “Nature Break”

  1. I had 12-15 of these caterpillars on my young lemon tree. They decimated it. I moved them to another bush a few months ago and the lemon tree is making a comeback. I hope they survived but I didn’t know what they liked besides lemon tree leaves.

  2. They are hungry little things. When we got them, we were advised that they would … um … poop up a storm. That turned out to be an entirely accurate description. It actually makes me look at the world just a little bit differently. I mean, I know that there’s all sorts of life out there that we don’t see or think about very much, and I don’t often consider the very down-to-earth consequences of all those invisible creatures.

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