I received a message from a fellow Texas Backyard RR4 partner last week who was horrified after witnessing a woman picking what she thought was a pesky caterpillar off a parsley plant and roughly throwing it on the ground.
Here are some tips for attracting and keeping black swallowtail butterflies in your yard:
1) Provide foodSwallowtail caterpillars love parsley, dill, and fennel. Add a few to your flower beds, or plant extra in your herb garden.
Swallowtail butterflies love a variety of flowers, but "compositae" flowers (think daisy shaped) are always a butterfly favorite.
If you have food for both adult butterflies and their babies (caterpillars), they are more likely to stay and lay more eggs, continuing the life cycle in your garden.
|Picture from publicdomainpictures.net|
2) Provide waterButterflies get thirsty. Provide a shallow source of water, like a birdbath or a saucer filled with pebbles, colorful marbles, or a plastic dish scrubber and water, so butterflies (and other pollinators, like my favorite, honey bees) can safely stop for a sip without drowning.
|Picture from http://www.kokokokids.ru/2014/04/backyard-and-garden-ideas-for-kids_29.html|
3) Keep predatory wasps awayMost insects, like honeybees, can live in harmony with butterflies, but many wasps, like the mean red ones that are prevalent in central Texas, are predatory, and caterpillars are a favorite prey.
I recommend putting up a reusable wasp trap rather than spraying with pesticides that can also harm the butterflies, bees, and other beneficials in your yard. These reusable WHY traps (wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets) are inexpensive, safe, long-lasting, and easy to use, and best of all, the refillable attractant lures in the pests, but does not attract honey bees. Each attractant lure lasts about 2 weeks, and if you buy them in bulk, they'll just you just a couple dollars per week.