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  • Writer's pictureSara Romero

Waiting for Our Swallowtail Butterfly

This summer I made an herb garden in my backyard. I’ve never had one before and since I was on my way to becoming a crazy plant lady anyway, I figured what the heck.

I bought a few starter plants, some soil and put them all in a half wine barrel. Well, all except the basil. Turns out basil plants like to be neglected. I learned this the same way I‘ve been learning my whole life... the hard way. For anyone who’s curious, they like very dry soil and lots of not too hot sunlight. It‘s still clinging to life.

Anyway, I filled my planter with mint, thyme, oregano and two kinds of parsley. Quarantine has me flexing my culinary muscles all over the place, so I was excited to have fresh herbs on hand. And if I’m being honest, for mint juleps too. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the bugs to find my supply of fresh ingredients. Something ate so much mint that it’s still recovering. That’s why when I saw two little caterpillars sitting on my parsley one morning, they almost didn’t have a chance to pupate. They were destined for my hornworm cemetery until I noticed how cute they were.

I know what you’re thinking, and maybe I have been inhaling too much Neem oil, but honestly after months of finding hornworms on my tomato plants and aphids in my herbs these caterpillars looked like presents gifted to me by the gardening gods.

Just Google it

My first stop was Google (naturally) to find out every thing I needed to know about these little guys from the search engine results page. It’s really impressive how much information you can get without actually clicking into a website. Images, lifecycle, food preferences—I mean if it weren’t so convenient, more companies would probably complain.

After Google told me I had parsely-loving swallowtail caterpillars I couldn’t wait to bring them inside and set up their new habitat. I didn’t have a butterfly mesh habitat at first, so I clipped the parsley sprigs and leaned them on a few sturdy sticks I placed in a mason jar. Once they were settled in, my second stop was Amazon to pick up a mesh habitat.

I was determined to make butterflies.

After four days of eating almost all my parsley, my patience paid off and they each formed a chrysalis. There was nothing to do but wait... and make sure little fingers or paws didn’t accidentally squash my butterfly dreams.

After a few days one of the chrysalises turned nearly black and I was convinced it had perished. Surprisingly it wasn’t the black chrysalis I should have worried about.

The longest 12 days.

After 12 long days of waiting and watching these unmoving sacs of sorcery something magical happened.

Sadly one of the caterpillars never emerged as a butterfly. But the one that did was more glorious and beautiful than anticipated.

Overall it was a fun and exciting experience. My kids really enjoyed watching the different stages of a butterfly, but their favorite part was letting it go and watching it fly away.

Five stars. Would recommend.

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