Third Generation of Swallowtail Caterpillars

What? I am so excited but sad at the same time. I thought the swallowtail butterfly had only TWO generations but lo and behold, I have a THIRD. This late in the year – he/she will not have enough time to go from a very tiny caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. I wish I could bring it indoors – they do sell “houses” to hatch your own butterflies.

I’m sharing this beautiful young caterpillar who has plenty of parsley to eat to grow bigger and maybe??? This is September 18, 2017 – unheard of at least by me. Do they overwinter???

Heck, I am an Advanced Organic Smart Master Gardener so I should be able to figure this out!!!

Since I have shared other posts about my swallowtail adventures – here is the final one for the year. Linking to Fiesta Friday

Today is September 20th (Sept. 21st I was able to get the picture below) and my friend has a buddy – there are two of them πŸ™‚ They are growing and I am hopeful they will make it to chrysalis and overwintering. The temps here are unusually warm and I am sure this is helping.

September 18th

July 23rd…

August 8th…

My female swallowtail butterfly on August 16th

15 thoughts on “Third Generation of Swallowtail Caterpillars

    • Hi Mary – yes they can be destructive, especially if there are a few. I thought my parsley was not going to make it but after the caterpillars left it came back just in time for this third generation. I enjoy watching them and for me it’s worth losing plants – I can buy parsley at the store πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I know they can wipe out a plant in no time, but then it’s fall. And now I’m worried about him/her! Do catapillars have a gender? I didn’t know you were a Master Gardener, let along an organic one!


    • First and second generations almost wiped out my parsley but the plant came back to provide food for this third generation. I feel lucky!!! Yes, I have been an active Master Gardener for over 25 years. I am now an alumni (beginning next year)… I took a number of classes, even the “Smart” title I did online and was certified by the Master Gardener Association. The butterfly in the picture above is a female – not as “pretty” as a male.

      Liked by 1 person

      • πŸ™‚ We’ve been lucky this year – we have been hosts to about 50 butterflies for the past two weeks, stopping, I suppose to get sustenance for their trip south.


  2. I found 3 of them on my parsley a few weeks ago, all in different stages/instars. This was a second generation for me. Either the birds found them or they went into hiding, they’re gone! ☹️ I did see a black swallowtail, but I doubt it came from the caterpillars, it would have been too soon. I’ll try to keep my eyes open for more caterpillars now that I know they have multiple generations.


    • Fascinating isn’t it? I’ve been reading about the different molts they go through and it looks like I captured the end of the 3rd instar and the beginning of the last stage of being full grown caterpillars. You can see the color difference. Not sure how long they will be eating – not this year but maybe next I will think about “my own butterfly house” (in the garage of course). Glad you are enjoying your “boys/girls” πŸ™‚


  3. You’ve captured the various pictures so beautifully Judi. Wow, how gorgeous and beautiful, and like you say, it’s ok if they stop and visit a while and decimate your parsley plant πŸ™‚ Well done!


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