Black Swallowtail caterpillar… & eggplants!

I’ve got a new butterfly caterpillar in the garden. I’m used to having seen Gulf Fritillaries and their cousins that are a darker shade. This time out, this guy really caught my eye! A bit of sleuthing around and it appears to be a Black Swallowtail. I’ve got the pics sent in to http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ for review and verification, but I’m pretty sure it’s a black swallowtail. I’ll post back when I get it confirmed.

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Also in the garden, my Ping Tung eggplants are taking off like gangbusters! That little snap of cold we had that did a bit of freeze damage didn’t kil them off. I had to shave a few dead leaves off from the outskirts, but they are both looking healthy, and with the recent influx of new ladybugs, their population of aphids should be down as well. No spraying on these guys!! Most of them are very clearly covered by the large leaves of the plant, but when I started to pull leaves up to check on the insect population underneath and to check on the eggplants, I see about 20 of them all together. They range in size from a newly emerging fruit just out of the flower to full length and ready to harvest fruits. I’ll pull them about a week or two apart I suspect, but I’m not making any specific plans as of yet. I just want to get them out at the same time but let the plant continue to fruit. I have already harvested about 5 fruit from these two plants over a month ago, but all flowers since then were just shriveling up, not getting pollinated. I guess the bees are back! :)

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Here’s my fennel plant, which the above pictured caterpillar has been munching on. Ya know, I have let this plant go for a while now. I’m sure I should have harvested it already if I were going to eat it, but I want to see what it looks like when it bolts. Along the dirtline, it has already sent off what looks like two offshoots from the main body, and each of them has swelled out as if it were going to expand into a new bulb to produce the stalks. At any rate, the stalks grow so quickly that they look like green toothbrushes emerging one day, and the next they are nearly full grown stalks!

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Here’s one of the purple beauty peppers. It had some major insect damage and is starting to recover and put on new growth. It even has a few flower buds appearing. In the background you can see one of the eggplants.

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Stevia! Why grow it from seed when it just puts out new growth! :)

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My favorite herb at the moment: Sage. Not only has this plant produced large quantities of leaves for me to munch on and cook with which are ever so fragrant, but it has gone to bolt and is now flowering. The flowers are small and mild blue, but I think they are quite attractive.

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