#1 Black Swallowtail
Four six-packs of fennel dumped unceremoniously in a clump into the garden for the Black Swallowtails Papilio polyxenes. Better late than never, the fennel didn’t get planted until mid-June.
Caterpillars kept popping up all summer, not that they lasted long.
Plagued by wasps and hornets of every description that buzzed frantically through the fennel, always searching. The most torturous were the Yellow Jackets, patrolling ceaselessly, hoping for a green/black capture. The caterpillars, like all Swallowtails, have a defense system – an orange osmeterium (oz-ma-TER-e-um), a forked appendage that pops out of the top of their heads. The foul odor it emits is supposed to frighten off predators, but it doesn’t work too well.
Another wasp predator called the Swallowtail Ichneumon Trogus pennator lay their eggs right inside the caterpillars, eventually killing them.
Biodiversity – where everybody is somebody else’s lunch.
One made it to pupation. Smart and cautious, it formed a chrysalis under a brick overhang on the house.