Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Black Swallowtails...they're here!

I've been noticing many more butterflies lately.  I've counted many more black and zebra swallowtails and monarchs this year than in the past few years.  I have a plant called rue growing in my border garden.  I bought it several years ago at the end of the season for very little.  I usually buy things at the end of the year when stores are trying to give away the few haggard plants they have left. 

The rue plant is a very pretty plant.  It grows about three feet tall in Oklahoma and has a pretty lacy light green leaf and a yellow flower in late May.  I will prune it back occasionally so it stays bushy.  I was worried that this years cold would kill it but it came back just like always.  Rue is an insect repellant plant but I didn't know that when I bought it.   The label in the plant said citronella but that happens sometimes in those end of season sales.  You don't always get what you thought.  Sometimes is good, sometimes it's bad.  This time, it was good!

What I have found is that black and zebra swallowtails love to lay their eggs on the plant.  I think the caterpillars eat the rue and make themselves very yucky tasting to birds and other predators.  I was looking last week to see if I had any eggs and saw little caterpillars all over the plants!  I was so happy!  I love helping the butterflies!

I've planted my dill and have transplanted my parsley, other favorites of the swallowtails.  I have finally successfully started milkweed and my mother-in-law sent me more seed to start this week.  I look forward to seeing even more butterflies in my garden in the upcoming years!

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