Our Kitchen Garden at Pippin Hill is filled with fresh herbs that Chef Bill Scatena incorporates in the Tasting Room menu. However, many insects also find these herbs to be tasty. Our horticulturist Diane Burns recently discovered Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the Kitchen Garden that have an appetite for the herbs. In particular, Black Swallowtail caterpillars love to munch on carrot family herbs, such as dill, parsley, and fennel.
Although the Black Swallowtail caterpillar is relatively harmless in comparison to Japanese Beetles or June Bugs, it is a well-known foe of gardeners as it will devour almost any type of foliage. If you don’t have enough parsley to share with this friendly caterpillar, it might be best to move to another host plant.
In the Kitchen Garden, Diane grows lots of perennials to encourage bird, butterfly and bee pollination. Wildlife and pollinating insects are welcomed because they are beneficial for the sustainability of the food chain.While in the caterpillar stage, the Black Swallowtail is a foe, but with minimal impact on our garden we welcome the species as it turns into a “friend” after it’s completed metamorphosis.
Fun Fact: Black Swallowtail caterpillars have bright orange scent glands, which release an odor as a defense mechanism to ward off predators.
In the approaching weeks, we will keep an eye out for the formation of the chrysalis as the caterpillars transition into beautiful butterflies. We highly recommend touring our Kitchen Garden upon your next visit!