Something caught my eye in the garden this morning. It was a black and white bouncing fur ball. Tisha was chasing a butterfly as it visited the garden. She's a killer. Luckily, this one got away before she got her claws into him. The butterfly she was after this morning was a Giant Swallowtail. Unfortunately, I didn't get the camera in time to show you our early arrival. I need to get the lemon tree out of the greenhouse so the swallowtail can lay eggs on it. The Giant Swallowtail caterpillars look like bird poo. We have seen Gulf Fritillary butterflies already as well. The passion vine is doomed. The Fritillary caterpillars look like they could sting you. They are red/orange and black striped with spines all along their body. Scary looking. The Black Swallowtails are not here yet. Their caterpillars look like something from a Dr. Seuss book. They have green and black bands with yellow dots and get as big as my thumb.
One time I really embarrassed myself by asking an entomologist coworker if could I put a bell on the cat so the butterflies would hear her and fly away. She looked at me like I look at the "can I grow this in a container people" and said, "insects sense most things chemically. They don't really "hear."
Here, in our little garden, we provide both nectar plants as well as larval food for our butterflies. My monkeys know what to look for. They can spot a tiny caterpillar faster than I can. They should, their eyes are better than mine. The larval food plants we grow are dill and fennel for the Black Swallowtails, citrus for the Giant Swallowtails, and Passion Vine for the Gulf Fritillary. Nectar plants are mostly Zinnia and Salvia. I am not sure what the Sulphers need, but I will find out and try to grow it.
Have you seen any butterflies yet?