Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Earlier this summer, we saw a monarch butterfly laying eggs on our milkweed plant, but when the caterpillars were very tiny, they disappeared. We believe a wasp preyed upon them. That was disappointing, but soon after, we found some other interesting caterpillars in our yard. We identified these as black swallowtails. There were seven. We didn’t take any chances with these guys. As soon as we could, we put them into a butterfly cage.

I can’t tell you how exciting this is for us. We love helping caterpillars get to their adult stage safely. 😉 Here are some of the photos I took.

We found these small caterpillars on my potted dill plant, and we had no idea what they were. With the help of iNaturalist, we found out they were black swallowtail caterpillars.

As they grew, they got very pretty.

In the last instar, they are gorgeous caterpillars.

Their chrysalis is quite striking as well.

We bought a large butterfly cage and put the entire potted dill inside. They were kept quite safe there.

A male. We had two males and five females total.

They all made it safely out into the wild.

We are also helping some giant swallowtail butterflies. I will post photos of them after they eclose too.

3 thoughts on “Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies

  1. How wonderful to watch and release these beautiful creatures! I found several black swallowtail caterpillars on our parsley this summer. Then I went out of town for several days. Sadly, when I came back they were gone.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! It is wonderful to watch. I’m so sorry you lost your caterpillars. We had the same thing happen to some monarch caterpillars this year. We think a wasp killed them while they were still tiny. So disappointing. This is why we put the black swallowtails in a mesh cage much faster than we would have otherwise.

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