Fennel Stories #1 Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes female on Virginia Mountain Mint. July 31, 2014. Leamington, Ontario.

Fennel Stories
#1 Black Swallowtail
Papilio polyxenes

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes female on Virginia Mountain Mint. July 31, 2014. Leamington, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes female on Virginia Mountain Mint. July 31, 2014. Leamington, Ontario.

 

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.

 

 

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillars in different stages of development. August 17, 2015, Leamington, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillars in different stages of development. August 17, 2015, Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

Caterpillars kept popping up all summer, not that they lasted long.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillar (about 3rd instar) on fennel with forked defense system (osmeterium) in operation. July 27, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes caterpillar (about 3rd instar) on fennel with forked defense system (osmeterium) in operation. July 27, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

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.

 

 

 

Swallowtail Ichneumon Wasp Trogus pennator laying eggs in Black Swallowtail caterpillar Papilio polyxenes. Sept. 21, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.
Swallowtail Ichneumon Wasp Trogus pennator laying eggs in Black Swallowtail caterpillar Papilio polyxenes. Sept. 21, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

 

 

Biodiversity – where everybody is somebody else’s lunch.

 

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes chrysalis under a brick overhang. Sept. 11, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes chrysalis under a brick overhang. Sept. 11, 2017, Leamington, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

One made it to pupation. Smart and cautious, it formed a chrysalis under a brick overhang on the house.

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