I have a little bit of a *thing* for bugs, and it was a trio of black swallowtail caterpillars on my parsley last summer that finally drove me to buy a macro lens. Since then I've gone crazy with documenting and identifying all manner of tiny creatures. It's no coincidence that my garden this year contains not one, not two, but four plants known to host swallowtails: carrots, fennel, dill, and parsley. Last week while weeding, I noticed a splotch of something in the dill. Ew, bird poop, I thought. Then, wait! You know what looks like bird poop? First instar black swallowtails! I kid you not, that was the inner dialogue. Sometimes I love my brain.
It was indeed one teeny tiny black swallowtail caterpillar, first instar. Here he (she? it?) is on the 13th:
And again on the 16th:
The little guy roughly doubled his length from ~6mm to ~12mm in three days. I'm hoping to pick up a couple of pots of dill to plant inside a habitat so that we can watch his growth with a little less risk of losing him to a predator. Last year we successfully raised two caterpillars on transplanted parsley to the chrysalis stage, and one eclosed two weeks later.