This is a female Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes astarius), newly emerged from the chrysalis. She was one of a large number of caterpillars feeding on our dill and parsley in the Edison Ford gardens back in late June and early July. Unlike some of our local butterflies which normally remain in the pupa form for only around ten days, swallowtails often wait months before emerging as an adult butterfly.
Eastern Black Swallowtail larvae feed on a variety of items of the Apiacae family commonly found in herb gardens, including parsley, dill, fennel, coriander, and carrots. Mock Bishop’s Weed is a native to our area and is usually found in wetland areas, providing a native host for these beautiful creatures. Common Rue (Ruta graveolens) also grows well locally as a perennial and will serve as a host for the Eastern Black Swallowtail, as well as the Giant Swallowtail. Care should be used when handling rue as some people report skin irritation from contact with the foliage.
If you missed our September garden talk on pollinator gardens you can stop by anytime to see our butterfly garden and talk to our garden experts about options for your garden. Our gardens and garden shoppe are open seven days a week from 9:00am to 5:30pm.