Caterpillar Happenings

This is one of my fennel plants.
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These are the cause of why my fennel plant looks like it looks.

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And these,

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…and these.

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Actually, they’re all the same caterpillars. They ate fennel and they grew; caterpillars are like that. There were ten Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, butterfly larvae dining on this fennel over the past week or so.

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Eating and eating, until there’s nothing left,

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…except defoliated stems and hiding caterpillars,

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…ready for metamorphosis in their cozy chrysalides. I guess I should make that singular,

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…because from all those caterpillars, this is the only chrysalis that I’ve found.

I’m sure the others are nearby, safe from munching predators. I’ll keep an open eye for the emerging butterflies during this next week.

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It’s Not All About The Flowers

I do so love flowers.

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But a primary reason why  I choose native plants and xeric (drought tolerant) plants for my gardens is to attract wildlife.

Neon SkimmerLibellula croceipennis, (male).

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Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, Papilio polyxenes.

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Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea.

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(Also, I choose natives/xerics to limit water usage.  Also, I choose natives/xerics to challenge myself in the study of plants and related fields of interest.  Also, I choose natives/xerics to experiment with aesthetic design of those plants in my gardens. Also, I choose natives/xerics to add beauty to my corner of the world.)

I digress.

When I began the re-landscaping efforts from my boring, water-thirsty lawn to the diverse, water conserving, perennial garden that I now enjoy, I scattered seeds of Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea,  purchased from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  This was 18 or 19 years ago–my children were wee bairns.  What I remember about that patch of Coneflowers is that when the butterflies were startled as they sipped Coneflower nectar, they would flutter into the air en masse.  There were so many butterflies that I could actually hear the whoosh of their wings.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many butterflies (or any other pollinators) in my gardens.  Drought, habitat destruction, climate change, overuse of commercial and home chemicals have devastated wildlife of all sorts.

Even so, there are still butterflies around.   Recently, I watched this common Red AdmiralVanessa atalanta, enjoying the spring nectar of a Coneflower.

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He (she?) posed nicely for me.

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Gardeners usually have competing reasons for the gardening they undertake and appreciate the bounty that a garden grants.

Thanks to Deb at austin agrodolce for introducing me to BugGuide.net