Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Pye" in the Sky

Good Saturday evening, all!

As promised, I am following up on my caterpillar post...

 photo aug23-5_zpsxh8rd8lw.jpg

Not exactly what I wanted to report, but I guess I am a little wiser about

caterpillars, and how Mother Nature doesn't really appreciate much interference...


First, the largest caterpillar was there, and then it wasn't.

(I suspect a bird or wasp took it...)

The four remaining ones were still eating away at the dwindling dill, however...

(evidently unperturbed by the loss of their comrade...)

Then another of the larger ones was gone.

Thinking I was being helpful, I cut what was left of the dill (pretty much just stems by then)

 and also some nice, juicy basil 

(plentiful, and I thought I had read earlier that they would eat it), 

and brought the whole shebang (the three caterpillars and all) in the house.

This was okay until the dill ran completely out... they don't like basil, it seems.

I did a quick Google search and found that other "host plants" are wild carrot

(Queen Anne's Lace), fennel, rue, and Joe Pye Weed,

so I went on a county-road drive in search of, first, the Queen Anne's Lace ~

and also the less familiar (okay, I only vaguely remember even hearing the name

but I had done my ~ I thought ~ *research*) ~

Joe Pye.

(I had already decided I was not going to be finding any fennel or rue.)

Well, I now know that by August, Queen Anne's Lace is finished...just the brown,

dry seed heads where it had been so plentiful a month ago (I had noticed it because

I kept meaning to stop and cut some to go in a zinnia bouquet...)

 photo aug23-6_zpsfqmonaac.jpg

And then I thought....THOUGHT, I had found Joe Pye...

but it turned out it wasn't him at all, but Milkweed (above)...

(I really need to brush up on my Missouri wildflowers!)

Now, if these had been Monarch caterpillars, all would have been well ~

but Eastern Black Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars aren't even tempted, sadly.


Then, one of the larger remaining caterpillars just fell off the barren dill stem, dead.

Right on the countertop. 


Don't tell, but there was a TINY bit of newly sprouted dill in another pot ~

my husband's new crop ~

I took the last two caterpillars out there and just put them in the pot.

I went out a little while later, and the big one was gone...

(Again, probably a bird's lunch...)

However, the smaller one was munching away on the tiny, fresh dill...

Next year, I guess we will just plant more dill ~ a whole row of it ~

instead of just a little pot's worth. Amazing how a species can be so

dependent upon such a limited diet... :(

I will find Joe Pye Weed in advance, too, and try to have it growing as well.

Oh, I have to of my favorite blogs  ~ (I go there and lurk) ~

"Perfume Posse", over on my side bar... has a photo of JOE PYE WEED...

in the latest post, "Bits and Pieces" ~

I couldn't believe it! "Synchronicity"!

Check it out! 

(Hope this is okay to post, Musette!)

Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend!

'Pillar-Post-Script...I just went out and checked, and my last "baby" has

disappeared, unfortunately... 

I had read what a small percentage of caterpillars actually make it to the butterfly

stage, and I see that it's true...

"Nature, red in tooth and claw..." (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)


  1. How disappointing! I've learned something here myself. What the caterpillar looks like, and what to plant next spring. Now off to find Joe Pye.

  2. You have tried so hard to save those caterpillars...Sorry you lost them. At least, you'll be ready next year.

    I've had to pull the milkweeds from the back garden to cut the hedge and clean up some tall seedy grass that took over that section of the garden as there some nice milkweeds a very short distance and it should be enough for the Monarch butterfly caterpillars next year. I didn't see a single one this year and I was disappointed.

  3. Oh my, I know the feeling ... so many times trying to help and nature has a mind of its' own.. but you tried.
    At times nature has left me sad as in the luna post on my 'journey blog' ... I didn't know they die after mating and that's why I saw them . I'm in Tennessee now, and they are plentiful here.

  4. I guess the birds get most of them..I sure have a shortage of butterflies around here..Have a happy Sunday, Anne

  5. Ah Anne - bless you for trying to keep these fellas safe. I guess in the end nature just has its final say. Great plan to grow more dill next year. Mine is pretty well done but we do still have lots of Queen Anne's Lace here so maybe they are feasting there now. Thanks for caring about those lovely butterflies. Hope you are staying cool. Have a great Sunday my friend.

  6. Too bad. I know how you feel. I watch over baby birds in our yard and feel awful when something gets them.

  7. Maybe if you had put netting over them????

  8. Hi All.
    I do not normally condone interfering with the ways of Mother Nature. However, in the case of butterflies many species are actually struggling and some are on their last leg. Therefore I suggest intervention. So here is a suggestion or 2 {or 3 :>} } :
    A} Caterpillars have voracious appetites....plant plenty. One caterpillar can consume almost one plant a day depending on species.
    B} If there hasn't been a lot of rain give everything a fine sprinkling. All creatures need water.
    C] Once you see the caterpillars purchase a fine bird netting. Before putting the bird netting on look for any other type of predator such as preying mantis {their jaws are tough and can eat more than their spouses}. Frogs, toads, snakes,etc- if they have a way,they will. So do your best to make a secure enclosure.
    D] Enclose the caterpillars
    E] Keep your eyes open for small changes in the "cat's". Once they start changing time seems either to stand still or go fast. Bet on the latter. When ready, even if it is one, release it/them. Re-close enclosure if necessary.
    F Plant high nectar, butterfly drawing flowers because they will be needing that badly once the blood has gone through their wings and their wings have totally dried. Remember, they have hung and gone through a major change living off the food they have previously consumed to gain weight.
    G If you wish to keep them around make sure you have a seasonal variety of high nectar plants and a butterfly water source which needs to be situated on the ground in the sunlight. Butterflies drink from puddles, fallen leaves, etc.
    I hope this helps anyone who wishes to help these beautiful wonders of nature.

  9. Dill, huh? I'll have to see what I need to plant here for a butterfly garden. My mother had one when I was growing up, and it was fabulous! Just full of butterflies!


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