What’s Eating My Parsley?

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Oh no….what’s eating my parsley? What should I spray?

caterpillars on parsley

K. Ochota CC by-NC-ND-4.0

Answer:  Nothing! That’s the caterpillar to the magnificent Black Swallowtail butterfly!

butterfly on flower

Black Swallowtail on Tithonia
K.Ochota CC BY-NC-ND-4.0

Did you know that butterflies will nectar on just about any type of flower, but will only complete their life cycle if their larval host plant is available for the caterpillars to feed on?

Here, the Black Swallowtail was attracted to Tithonia (a.k.a. “Mexican Sunflower”), but it laid its eggs on Parsley planted nearby.

Most butterflies begin to appear in our area in August, so it’s important that you include summer/fall blooming plants, as well as larval host plants, when planning your garden.

For more information on larval host plants and butterfly gardening, check out these helpful links:

Butterflies in Your Backyard | NC State Extension Publications (ncsu.edu)

University of Florida Butterfly Host Plants

Find a Plant: Butterflies-NC State Plant Toolbox