If you plant parsley and fennel and dill, there is a good chance you will have the opportunity to see Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars. I have a bit of each of these. I used the parsley earlier in the season, but have allowed it to go to seed. The other two, I just plant for the butterflies. In the last few days, I have spotted caterpillars on the plants.
The little guy, above, is about half an inch long. In its early stages, the Black Swallowtail caterpillar is dark and has tiny spikes. On the middle of its back you can see a white saddle patch.
Pictured above is a “middle-stage” caterpillar. As it matures, the caterpillar loses its dark colour and spikes and develops green and black stripes. Usually, the caterpillars are green with black bands and yellow spots, but caterpillars may occasionally remain dark with spots. The caterpillar above is about an inch long, while the one below is close to an inch and a half. Soon it will be ready to find a twig and spin its chrysalis. It will emerge as a beautiful Black Swallowtail. What a miracle!