Where did the black swallowtails go?

by Ivy
(Miramar, FL)

This is my first year butterfly gardening. I was really excited to see how easy it was to attract monarch butterflies, and see them develop in my own backyard. My boys enjoyed this immensely!

I got fennel and dill plants that already had small black swallowtail caterpillars on them. I thought it would be great to see their process, since it seems that our backyard is ruled by monarchs and zebra wings. ;) The caterpillars happily munched on our fennel and dill, and then, just when it seemed they would go into pupa stage, disappeared. Gone. I even looked on the other side of our fence to see if maybe I could find some of their pupas, on the ficus shrubs that are there. No signs of them. What do you think happened? Do they taste bad to birds, just like the monarch caterpillars do? Because the birds that visit our backyard would not even touch the monarch caterpillars.

Karen says:

Unfortunately all caterpillars have predators that think they are delicious. In my backyard, even the monarchs who are suppose to make birds sick and taste terrible are devoured by the Cardinals who love them!

So most likely they were eaten by a bird or insect. If you would really like to observe the life cycle of the black swallowtail, bring them inside and raise them. You can get tips about raising them inside by checking out the pages about raising monarchs and swallowtails on my website.

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