Thursday, May 7, 2009

Guest or Pest?

I went out to pick some oregano yesterday, and just look at was perched on the parsley!

No, not a canning jar with grass in it, a caterpillar. A bright, stripey-spotty Jamaican-themed caterpillar.

I'm a little hesitant to admit that my first instinct was to moosh it, because I thought it was a tomato hornworm. But then I took a closer look, and thought, "This may be one of those really cool garden-friendly bugs people try to attract!"

I thought I remembered reading something about parsley-eating larvae somewhere in a "how to attract wildlife" gardening article. So I googled something like "caterpillar on parsley" and came up with: swallowtail butterfly. Larva, that is. Which do, indeed, love them some parsley; in fact, one site even referred to them as "parsley worms." Worm, indeed; I don't think so.

In fact, unlike worms, these guys are more on the "pest" side of the equation. But we have two big fluffy parsley plants, so I figured we could spare some. I had originally taken the little guy inside for ease of identification, but then I thought, "What if I put him back outside and some bird gobbles him up?" So I've opted to adopt. For the time being, anyway.

And you know what? I don't think I ever did this as a kid. Oh, sure, there was the woolly bear I "adopted," insisting on carrying it in my hand to the grocery store, of all places. I remember I couldn't understand why mommy didn't want me to take it, until I dropped it down in the grating at the front of the meat cooler. I was devastated and guilt-ridden about my poor woolly bear being forced into permanent hibernation. I wonder if he's still curled up in a little ball down there, waiting for spring, dammit!

Well, anyway, today I'm enjoying watching my little green friend as he munches his way through leaf after leaf. Caterpillars poop a LOT for their size. I'm hoping it'll pupate and I can watch the butterfly emerge. Plus, I've even come up with a name for "him" (do caterpillars have gender?): Herb.

And then, tonight, when I went out to replenish his foliage, what did I spot, but another, identical parsley plucker perambulating upon the plant. Hmmm. That one's just gonna have to feed himself. Or herself.

Hey, I'm leaving town this weekend to go spend Mother's Day mother, of all people. So chances are I won't be around the blogosphere 'til next week. Happy weekend to you all!


  1. Congrats on the excellent alliteration! You just had to do it, didn't you? Good luck with your adoptee. When my sis and I were kids we "adopted" tadpoles, watched them change, but missed the moment they were ready to hop out of the water. Yep. MIA. Turned up later behind the furniture - dessicated.

    Happy Mom's day to your Mom!

  2. you'll have to come to the Wooly Worm Festival this year

  3. Herb!! I love it!!

    My mom is going to plant a bunch of butterfly attracting plants around my house for me next week... Teagan's "thing" has been butterflies for a long time!

  4. Flartus, You are a nut. Have a grand time this weekend. Can't wait to hear about it.

  5. A pet caterpillar named Herb? Brilliant.

    Only you, Flar. Only you.

    PS: Pack your lightest cotton thingys and thong bikini because it's in the 90's here! Love and happy Mother's Day wishes to your mom. I'll try hard not to be disappointed that you'll be so close and yet so far. Your NEXT trip to Jekyll we WILL meet!

  6. Herb? Clever and fun!
    What a gorgeous caterpillar/worm critter. I hope you'll post updates about him.

    Enjoy the time with your Mama :)



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