Tillys Nest-Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies
Findings Gardening

A Butterfly Surprise


We love companion gardening.  We also love using natural techniques to keep harmful insects and pests at bay.  This year, we planted extra dill through out the vegetable garden knowing that it can help ward off pests and attract beneficial insects. You can imagine my surprise weeks ago when I discovered these little crawling caterpillars on one of my largest dill plants.

I didn’t have to wait long, as I posted this photo to Facebook as I was standing at the garden gate.  When I came inside, you all had answered me!  These little ones were friends.  One day they would grow up to be beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies.  There were plenty of little ones on the dill, so the kids and I scooped up three and put them in our butterfly house.  There they ate and ate and ate!  In fact, the three of them ate all 5 dill plants from the garden.  They were very hungry.

We went down to the garden center and bought a smaller dill plant that could fit in the butterfly habitat.  Hopefully, they would soon begin their metamorphosis.  Within a couple of days, we had two beautiful chrysalises clinging to the largest branches of the dill and one had fallen off.  I tucked this one back into the branches of the dill.

I had researched and read that sometimes, these butterflies will overwinter in the chrysalises.  So, I tucked the butterfly habitat in an outside corner of the house by the garage.  I figured that they could remain there all summer and I would just take them into the garage once the weather got snowy. If they even survived.

We went on vacation and returned. It had been 10 days and the chrysalises were still as we had left them.  Then, yesterday I discovered two beautiful butterflies fluttering near the top on the habitat. Two must have hatched the night before!  Eagerly, we let them out and watched them dance off together into the sky.  There is still one left hanging from the dill.  I can only hope it will hatch in the next few days.

The release
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest


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  • I love that your dill attracted swallowtails. Beautiful! I have some volunteer dill in my beans that I just let grow, for the reason you mentioned. And, I planted arugula and sage amid my cabbages, broccoli, etc. It is supposed to deter pests from the veggies. We'll see. Next year, my big plan is to plant nasturtiums near my cucumbers, zucchini and squash. The cucumber beetles are eating those plants alive this year and I can't keep up with them by hand-picking. I read that nasturtiums will attract them away from the other plants. These are the methods I prefer to use, rather than a spray (even an organic one.) It seems more in harmony with nature.

    • I could not agree with you more about the pest issues in the garden. I love experimenting and it seem each year I learn more and more. Thank you for sharing your experiences too!

  • The caterpillar to butterfly tutorial is great! We did the same thing one year with a tomato hornworm and it was a lot of fun for the kids. Thanks for hosting this hop every week. Have a good one!
    Vickie @ Making Our sustainable Life

    • Thanks! How cool that you did the same thing with a tomato hornworm. I just can't seem to get past how they look, even the chickens won't eat them! I have to say I can't blame them.

  • What pretty butterflies! I've seen a couple butterflies around my garden lately and it makes me so happy. We have had our share of pests, though, and are looking up organic ways to deal with them. I will not use harsh chemicals on my food! No way.