Swallowtail and Monarch Report

I just saw a promo for Mr. Neil's movie on tv. I can't believe I know someone who wrote a book that's being promoted as a mainstream summer movie. The "in a world" guy is even narrating the trailer. Ooooooo.

Poor Cinnamon, first she's losing blog time to birds and bees, now she's losing her parsley to the black swallowtail caterpillars.

Well, the black swallowtail caterpillars are proving to be very exciting compared to the monarchs. If you recall from the last entry, I was having trouble initially identifying the cats because they didn't look like the photos of black swallowtail caterpillars in my books. That has changed in the last twenty four hours. Here is one of the caterpillars from yesterday.

Here they are today! Some of the cats are finally looking like they do in my caterpillar field guides. Two still look like bird poop, but they're growing up so fast. Another exciting development is that I thought I only had four, but discovered that I in fact, have five swallowtails to watch grow.

I broke out my Nikon 4500 to get some macro shots of the caterpillars. The bird poop looking ones do have some color when you look at them up close--little dark orange spots with spikes coming out of them. I think since the young caterpillars spend so much time on the top side of the leaf, the bird poop look helps them avoid predators (no one wants to eat that).

Then compare that to the more colorful older ones. They are very garish and look as though they would stick out like a sore thumb. However, I noticed that they tend to stay on the stems of the parsley and if we were looking at parsley bunched together, the yellow, white and black stripes would help them blend with the stems.

Even their little caterpillar toes are cute!

While I was taking macro photos, one of the bird poop looking cats, shed its skin to reveal the older cat coloration--it happened too fast for me to get a photo, but you can see the old skin right behind it. Freaky.

The photos might make the caterpillars look much larger than they are at the moment, so I used a pen as a size comparison. That is one of the older cats munching on some parsley--still quite tiny. I bet next week it will by ginormous.

The monarch caterpillars are still going strong. Almost all of my eggs have hatched. This tiny egg was showing signs of getting ready to hatch yesterday. You can see the dark head showing through the top of the egg.

This morning the egg was empty, the cat was out and about.

It had already fattened up quite a bit by noshing on some milkweed and leaving some frass (caterpillar poop). Monarchs are cool, but it's fun growing caterpillars that change color.