What to do about Caterpillars in the garden | Beverly Gurganus Art

beverly gurganus art Black Swallowtails caterpillar life cycles caterpillars in your garden life cycle charcoal sketch

What to do about caterpillars in the garden | Beverly Gurganus Art

What would you do if you found caterpillars in your garden devouring your parsley?  Get rid of them with a natural insecticide would have been my answer last year, but this year I went a different route.

Before I get into this story, let me answer what you may be thinking.  What does caterpillars have to do with art?  Well...it has everything to do with art, or at least for me.  If you have ventured over to my about page, then you know that the simple everyday life is what breathes inspiration into my soul.  {If you haven't made it to my about page then I invite you to head on over to learn more of what makes my artistic heart beat.}

About | Beverly Gurganus Fine Art

We had a mild winter except for the occasional freezing temps causing the parsley in my garden to continue growing, and by Easter I had plenty to pick for my recipes.  I collected a nice bunch, and what I didn't use I kept it fresh by putting it in a vase of water.  A week or two went by and I never used the rest of the parsley, but I noticed small black insects on the plant.  What in the world were they and how did they get there?

Let's go back a bit to last summer... Ah ha!  I remembered having trouble with these strange caterpillars eating up my parsley so I decided to ask google about these black creatures with a white saddle.

black swallowtail caterpillar | Beverly Gurganus Fine Art

(baby black swallowtail on parsley leaf in charcoal)

Turns out they were baby Black Swallowtails.  Have you seen Black Swallowtail butterflies?  Me either until I googled that too.  They are gorgeous black butterflies with blue markings (Eastern variety) ...too beautiful to destroy.  I decided to make this a learning adventure for my daughter and I.  We bought a 6.00 mesh folding laundry basket from Dollar General, a large aluminum pan (you know, the ones you carry food to potlucks so you can just throw away once the food is empty?), a jar of water, a bunch of fresh parsley, and a stick to make a DIY caterpillar home in hopes to witness their life cycle from baby to butterfly.

black swallowtail caterpillar | Beverly Gurganus Fine Art

(black swallowtail caterpillar on parsley stem in charcoal)

We had 5 caterpillars that we were caring for by giving them fresh parsley every couple of days (keeping it in a glass of water kept it fresh longer), and cleaning the... well...ummm...poo from the bottom of the pan (this helps to prevent possible diseases). They seemed to double in size every couple days!  After two weeks of growing we watched the 3 surviving caterpillars crawl away and attach themselves to a part of the home where they would move into the chrysalis stage (each caterpillar was 2 days behind the previous one so it took 5 days for them all to reach this new stage).

Chrysalis | Beverly Gurganus Fine Art

(Black Swallowtail Chrysalis stage in charcoal)

So this is where we are in this adventure... 3 caterpillars waiting to burst from their shell and spread their wings to fly.  It has been an amazing reminder of what an amazing process this is.  I was even able to witness one of the caterpillars as they wiggled themselves as the chrysalis covered them like sliding a sock over your foot.  It left me thinking...where did the chrysalis come from cause it seemed to just appear from nothing?!  

I have enjoyed sketching the basic stages of these caterpillars from the moment I found them on my parsley up til this current stage, and I have space saved on my page to add the butterfly.

Swallow tail life cycle | Beverly Gurganus Fine Art

(life cycle of the Black Swallowtail in charcoal)

There are many lessons we can learn from the caterpillar, and this process provides many teachable moments for your children.  God has something beautiful for each of us, but we have to surrender ourselves to his leading towards transformation.  The journey isn't easy, and some days it may feel unbearable, but God in his faithfulness will carry us through.

If you find pesky caterpillars feasting in your garden, maybe instead of zapping them with insecticide you will remove them from your garden, build a home, and watch their journey towards flying free.

 


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