On May 19, two Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies emerged after wintering over in chrysalis stage.
Back in early November, I had collected three caterpillars threatened by a deep freeze, placed them in a butterfly enclosure, supplied the cats with plenty of fennel — they are hearty eaters, and kept their enclosure clean. When they formed their chrysalises, I moved the enclosure outside for them to winter over at nature’s pace. More than six months later, two of the caterpillars emerged as beautiful butterflies.
The fennel, dill and native Golden Alexander (Zizia) in the garden attracted numerous Black Swallowtails last summer, but it wasn’t until the late fall generation — the third and final generation each year in the Mid-Atlantic — that their caterpillars escaped the birds and small wasps that feed on them.
Black Swallowtail caterpillars grow through several stages, called instars. Here’s the progression.
Two out of three to date. Here’s hoping the third will be flying soon.
Update: On May 23, the third Black Swallowtail emerged from its chrysalis, gathered strength and flew off.