by Larry Kocian
A few weeks ago, I noticed a Swallowtail butterfly flying frantically in my tropical garden, going back and forth. It would land on this volunteer plant that I didn’t know what it was until now. I realized that this Swallowtail was laying its eggs on this plant.
It turns out the volunteer tree is a Prickly Ash. After the egg laying, I noticed five caterpillars a few weeks later. They look like bird poop. They were happily eating each day and staying here.
I would check them daily. Then over time, I noticed one disappeared. Then the next couple of days, two more disappeared. Oops.
Then I said, “I’m going to rescue them.” I bought these laundry carrying fold-up devices, and they worked perfectly. I cut the remaining Prickly Ash and placed it in a newly purchased large bottle vase. When I cut it to transfer the babies into the enclosure, I found another baby caterpillar.
In another large bottle vase, I cut a branch from a citrus tree of mine, to ensure they will have enough to eat. I placed cedar mulch in the bottom and staked it down so it won’t blow away.
The next few days, they remained. One baby caterpillar continued to eat. The other two didn’t eat. Two days later, they turned into chrysalis.
I continue to monitor these two and the baby caterpillar. One of the chrysalis fell off to the ground on the bed of mulch. It’s still healthy and safe inside the enclosure.