The other day while working in the garden the peace was pierced by a distress call from Ellen – ‘What happened to my parsley plants’. Closer inspection revealed that the plants had become a major ingredient in an ongoing feast for 11 black swallowtail caterpillars.
The caterpillars produced by the Black Swallowtail butterfly feed on parsley, dill, fennel and other members of the carrot family. During the feeding the caterpillars have five instars (the stage between molts). Our plants seemed to have at least two. After two days the caterpillars were gone. Whether they had formed pupa (chrysalis) we could not determine.
I also noticed that the caterpillars expelled balls of green plant material. So they obviously do not digest all of the plant.
The parsley plants quickly responded with vigorous new growth.