I know your first question is, “Why would I want to attract caterpillars?”
Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher, or maybe it’s because I’m a mom, or maybe it’s just because I enjoy the beauties of nature, but I love caterpillars. It’s so much fun seeing them grow from teeny tiny to a few inches long in just a few days, then see them form a chrysalis, and then wait excitedly for them to emerge as butterflies.
Whatever it is, our whole family enjoys caterpillars.
After several years of gardening, I’ve learned that (at least here in the Midwest), how to attract caterpillars. Black swallowtail caterpillars love dill. You can buy a dill plant anywhere that sells plants, with the herbs. After the first year, it will reseed itself. I’ve never had to plant dill again; it just springs up year after year. I generally just let it pop up wherever, although I do pull some of it up (side note: you can dry the “flowers” on the dill and save the little seed heads when they dry to use as dill seed in seasoning pickles and other things).
Each year in mid-June, I begin finding these on my dill:
A couple of weeks ago, I found six. A week later, I only could locate two (the birds apparently love caterpillars even more than I do), so I moved them into a container so they could continue to develop.
Both our caterpillars are now in their crysalides (I looked it up and that’s the plural of crysalis – see, ya learned something today!) waiting to emerge as butterflies … maybe 2-3 weeks if I remember correctly?
In looking online, I found a great site telling more about black swallowtail caterpillars and butterflies here.
Have fun attracting caterpillars this summer!