Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, July 7, 2014

Finding Caterpillars

Can you hear it? I'm letting out a HUGE sigh of relief. Why you wonder. Well, I am very excited to report that at long last we have caterpillars! Yes, Caterpillars!

Southern Meadows

We have been patiently waiting for months to see signs from the butterfly community that they are back and strong. In my last post, Beyond Butterflies, I wrote about the lack of butterflies this year. Now, here we are in July and we are starting to see few more butterflies but I have yet to spot a male/female pair of the same species.  I have not seen any black swallowtail butterflies this season and they are typically numerous and frequent in our garden. There is not a black swallowtail caterpillar to be found on the parsley, fennel or golden alexander.

But its not all doom and gloom for every butterfly species. Sometime when we weren't looking the fritillary butterflies managed to find mates and have been laying eggs. I first found two variegated fritillary caterpillars on a viola in front of the house. We have lots of violas around the garden for this very reason. They migrate all over the garden and I just let them grow where they will hoping a gulf fritillary will find them. And they have!

Southern Meadows

This prompted me to look at the passion vine again. I had been checking them regularly but finding nothing for weeks so I honestly had stopped looking everyday. Much to my surprise I found this hungry caterpillar devouring a leaf. This was enough to get me jumping up and down in my garden boots.

Southern Meadows

But wait there are more, lots more! Aren't they gorgeous!

Southern Meadows

Southern Meadows

And, in all different instar stages too. I just needed to turn over a leaf or two and there they were.  Happy day! 


two variegated fritillary caterpillars on passion vine

Southern Meadows
 
The passion vine is also the host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly and I found several of these caterpillars crawling around as well. Like the variegated fritillary, they are orange and black but missing the white markings.

Finding Caterpillars: Southern Meadows

Finding Caterpillars: Southern Meadows

This is really good news! Hopefully we will have a lot more fritillary butterflies fluttering about the garden in the next few weeks.  I am still keeping my fingers crossed that we will see other butterfly and moth families make their appearance very soon! Have you been seeing more butterflies in your garden yet?

8 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Like you, I have noticed the absence of all kinds of butterflies here in Southeast Texas this year. Even the Gulf Fritillary which is usually all over the place all summer. Lately, I have been seeing a few fritillaries around and I'm hoping that I'll soon be able to join you in the caterpillar watch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karin this is exciting news...congrats. We are not seeing many butterflies...actually I only saw one so far this season. We have lots of host and nectar plants but they are just not here or they by passed us due to lack of plants they need or weather. But lots more milkweed and butterfly weed beautifying the roadsides so maybe we will see them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have convinced me I must find a place for a passion vine. I have not seen any caterpillars this year, despite other host plants in my garden. Maybe I need to look harder!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay! So glad you found some caterpillars! I think I heard you screaming all the over to my house! I have two cats on my fennel.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is great news. I hope they bring forth many butterflies. Here, the Monarch is doing well after years of very few. I have seen quite a few, and the milkweed should be chewed up soon.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That's wonderful! I've noticed some butterflies--but not as many in my garden as last year. I thought maybe I saw frass and caterpillar chewing on my Milkweed, but then I found a Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle. I got rid of him and the orange eggs. Not sure if there's a monarch in the patch or not. By this time last year I was seeing lots of Tiger Swallowtails, and I haven't seen any in my garden yet. Lots of butterflies on hikes, though. Maybe everything's just a little later this season? Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have been working for close to 5 years in my neighborhood to improve the butterfly population. It is really slow painful work.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yay for caterpillars! Wow, I can't believe you haven't had any Swallowtails with them usually being so prevalent. I'm glad you're getting some others, at least. Up here I've been seeing Great Spangled Fritillaries and a few more different kinds fluttering by. There are several gardens around in my neighborhood, so hopefully they are getting more than my new little one.

    ReplyDelete

"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment...I love hearing from you!