Phlutters – Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies – Part III

When the caterpillars reach their final size they tend to slow down and rest a bit. At this point they need to get rid of any food left in their bodies, and to do so means a purge. After the discharge of stomach contents, the caterpillars will be ready for the next step in life, what I call a walkabout.

The caterpillar will drop off the host plant after purging, (be prepared for a gooey mess beneath the plant) and then travel the area to find a suitable place to form a chrysalis. Don’t worry if the caterpillar climbs several feet up a wall or other tall object. Also, don’t be alarmed if they drop all the way down to the floor from their high perch. My porch is cement, and this terrible drop never seems to even stun the caterpillar. They just go on walking, searching, climbing, and exploring any object in their way.

Finally, they find a spot to transform. They spin a silken pad to secure their tail, and then spin a silken thread called a girdle to hold them steady. The Black Swallowtail caterpillars I raise harden up at this point, forming a strange, striped comma-like appearance. This stage usually lasts several hours or overnight. Suddenly, without warning, a slight thrashing motion will begin and the outer skin will be sluffed off. I’ve only managed to see this happen once or twice. Underneath the skin is a beautiful green or tan chrysalis. The color will depend on what the caterpillar has formed its chrysalis upon. I usually find the butterflies emerge within two weeks of forming the chrysalis unless they are late Autumn butterflies, in that case they will winter over and emerge in the late Spring.

Most of the caterpillars choose the window/screen area of the back porch to form a chrysalis upon. Sometimes, I lose track of their whereabouts, and then I will be surprised to suddenly find a chrysalis in a very strange place, or one outside the porch door, (there is a small opening beneath the door where they can exit if they choose) or they will completely disappear in a hidden spot and suddenly I will have an unexpected butterfly flying on the porch. I’ve included a few photos below of this year’s strange resting spots for the metamorphosis.

This one was a music lover and chose the spot to form a chrysalis beneath a window chime. When the time came, he left his melodious resting place, climbed out, dried off, and spread his wings before he flew away.

Once in a while a caterpillar will choose poorly, such as this terrible resting spot on a screen door spring. A bad choice can mean big problems, and that is a bit of a tease for Part IV.

Phlutters – Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies – Part II

A better title for this post would be “EATING, EATING, EATING!” The caterpillars don’t lose their appetites after they are moved into the shelter of the porch. Voracious eaters, they will take large bunches of fennel down to the stem in one day.

Before trying to save every caterpillar you see, consider if you have enough host plant for them to feed on. A few year’s ago I found some late caterpillars in Autumn. I ran out of the host plant quickly, so I went to the store and bought an organic dill plant. Little did I know that organic herb plants are often treated with organic control products. The caterpillars did not thrive. Although, these treatments will not harm humans, and are considered organic, they are deadly to caterpillars.

The black cloth beneath the vases is there to capture the frass, or in easy to understand terms, the caterpillar poop. You will be completely amazed at how much they excrete. It is hard, and bounces, so be prepared to find it in unexpected places. I put a piece of garden cloth beneath the vases and that seems to help keep it in control, and also is easy to shake out into the garden beds.

The caterpillars shed their skins several times as they grow. You can see the shedding behind the top caterpillar along the stem. They also rest for periods of time, then wake up and begin again, “Eating, eating and more eating!

Phlutters – Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies – Part I

As soon as I see the first Black Swallowtail butterfly flitting around the yard I begin to check the fennel plant for eggs.


Without my reading glasses on, I would never spy the rounded yellow eggs on the thin fronds of fennel. Dill, Parsley, Rue, and Fennel are a few of my garden plants that are host plants for Black Swallowtails.


When the eggs hatch, and I find small caterpillars on the plants, I bring them onto the back porch for safekeeping. You might wonder why I don’t leave them on the plant and let nature take its course. The answer is the predator bugs that share the same leafy fennel plant. Ladybug larva coexist and quickly eat anything else they find on the plant. Praying mantis babies also roam the leafy green fronds. Small spiders are a threat to newly hatched caterpillars. I know from experience, if I don’t remove the caterpillars when I first see them, the next day the numbers will be greatly diminished, even to the point of none to be found.


Before I gather the caterpillars, I always have vases of water ready to hold the host plant of fennel. Most importantly, I cover the top of the vase with some sort of barrier to keep the small cats from drowning, Unfortunately, I know from experience, they often wander into the water if the opening is left uncovered. I use garden cloth and a single rubber band. A small hole snipped in the center allows me to insert the fennel. At the start of their feeding, one frond of fennel will be enough. They will soon need several stems a day as they progress through their instars: a period of time between the caterpillar molting.

To water the fennel without removing the covering, I use a spouted water bottle that easily adds a few inches of water. The fennel is a very thirsty plant. It will stay fresh for days if the water level in the vase is kept near the top.


I never pick the small caterpillars up with my fingers when transporting them to the vased fennel. They are extremely small and easily crushed. Instead, I pull the strand of fennel they are munching on away from the plant and place it amongst the fronds of vased fennel on the porch. I check back several times a day to make sure the caterpillar has transferred to the fresher fronds.

The caterpillars will go through several instar phases on this first piece of fennel. When the fennel begins to get dry or is eaten away by the caterpillars, I fill a second, sometimes also a third vase, and place it close beside the first so that the fennel mixes into the first bunch. As they eat, and the first fennel dries up, the caterpillars move onto the fresher plants.


A great resource for Black Swallowtail Butterflies can be found on the site: Butterfly Fun Facts.

Phun – Avatar Tweaking

Watercolor Filter

I decided it was time to create a new avatar. The unfiltered, natural photograph was too lifelike; I looked all of my 60+ years. BooHoo! I was hoping for miracles. Smile! I decided it would be fun to use Lunapic-Free Online Photo Editor and tweak the photo into something a little younger. To be honest – too much fun! I had to make myself stop or I would have played around all day. Here’s a couple of my creations with Lunapic.

Warhol Effect x 9
Cartoon effect with Beauty Art Filter Applied First
Floating Art Filter
Toon Face – Cartooned without Art Filters

Which one do you like best? If you have a chance, and a good block of time free, take a few moments to play around with these filters. It’s so much fun. My choice: I think I like the two cartoons best. I guess it brings out the child in me. I can just see the last photo as a character in an episode of The Flintstones.

Lunapic.com is a fun site to share with children.

Phlowers – Deluge of Pink Flower Showers

Who would believe this gorgeous deluge of pink florets is atop the humble herb Oregano? I have quite a few Oregano plants in the front of my herb garden border. Not only flavorful, this member of the mint family is a healing herb. Oregano is a wonderful herb to use for its preventative/medicinal qualities. As with most foods and herbs, organically grown Oregano is the best choice.

Oregano florets draw pollinators by the dozens. Today, along with the honeybee, I also spotted wasps, bumblebees, cabbage white butterflies, hoverflies and sweat bees on the blossoms.

The Oregano blossoms are my entry into Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology – Part 25/Are You Washed?

Are You Washed in the Blood (Elisha A. Hoffman 1878)

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?


Refrain:
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?


Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?


When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?


Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
Oh, be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology

 Then the apostle passes on to the second reason why he should thus magnify the Lord Jesus by saying, “And washed us from our sins in his own blood.” “Washed us.” Then we were foul; and he loved us though we were unclean. He washed us who had been more defiled than any. How could he condescend so far as to wash us? Would he have anything to do with such filthiness as ours? Would that sublime holiness of his come into contact with the abominable guilt of our nature and our practice? Yes, he loved us so much that he washed us from our sins, black as they were. He did it effectually, too: he did not try to wash us, but he actually and completely washed us from our sins.” The stains were deep and damnable; they seemed indelible, but he has “washed us from our sins.” No spot remains, though we were black as midnight. “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,” has been realized by every believer here. But think of how he washed us— “with his own blood.” Men are chary of their own blood, for it is their life; yet will brave ones pour it out for their country or for some worthy object; but Jesus shed his blood for such unworthy ones as we are, that he might by his atonement for ever put away the iniquity of his people. At what a cost was this cleansing provided! Too great a cost I had almost said. Have you never felt at times as if, had you been there and seen the Lord of glory about to bleed to death for you, you would have said, “No, my Lord, the price is too great to pay for such a one as I am”? But he has done it; brethren, his sin-atoning work is finished for ever: Jesus has bled, and he has washed us, and we are clean beyond fear of future defilement. Shall he not have glory for this? Will we not wish him dominion for this?

Phlowers – Friday Gems

Black-eyed Susans are a reliable flower in my gardens. They usually don’t last the whole summer, and often fall victim to downy mildew on the leaves, but the golden sunshine they display is worth growing them. I’ve never been able to eradicate the mildew once it starts, so my remedy is to plant a late-flowering annual nearby to take over when the Black-eyed Susan withers away. This Photograph is part of Skywatch Friday.

The plants are part of the sunflower family and will turn their faces to follow the sun. There are many varieties of this beautiful garden flower. The long stems make them a perfect choice for floral arrangements.

Black-eyed Susans are a reliable self-seeder. Let them go to seed and they will return every year.

Black-eyed Susans are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Plants – Garden Volunteers & Garden Tools

Each year I delight in finding plant ‘volunteers’ in my garden beds. I often have unexpected bare spots in the early Summer due to the foliage of daffodils and other bulb plants dying back. These volunteers perfectly fill the empty spaces. I’m so grateful for my garden volunteers.

Nicotiana sylvestris (flowering tobacco)
Coleus Sprout and Browallia
Blue Lobelia and Balsam
Balsam Flower from a Volunteer Plant – I have dozens of these beauties in many colors in the garden beds…most are volunteers.
Bird feeder seed volunteers – This Sunflower hid among other weedy volunteers and didn’t fall victim to the hungry rabbits.
Yellow Thistle – This is invasive in some parts of the country, but it is the first time I have seen the plant in my garden. It has grown in the ground beneath the winter bird feeder. I think it probably was part of a Wild Finch Bird Seed I bought this past year.
Moving a Balsam volunteer for replanting.

I’ve mentioned this tip before, but for newcomers to the blog it’s worth repeating. One of my favorite tools for transplanting volunteer plants is a putty knife. It slides right down between sidewalk cracks and lifts the small plantlets roots and all. It also digs deep and severs the roots of Dandelions, evening Primrose, and Plantain, all good weeds, but sometimes too exuberant in their growth.

Balsam root ball intact using putty knife removal.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology – Part 24/Without Measure

I love the words Spurgeon uses in this paragraph of ‘John’s Doxology.’ Infinite Love – Immeasurable – Immutable – Pure – Perfect – Divine Love! Just reading those words out loud makes me want to run outside, throw my arms up toward the sky, and shout, “I LOVE YOU!”

THE LOVE OF JESUS IS A…

Jesus asks us to come to him with the open arms of a child. He will give us rest. He loves us, he never leaves us. He is our Savior. He is our Friend. He is the only Way to Eternal Life with the Father. Let us all spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord!


Charles Haddon Spurgeon – John’s Doxology
Remember, he loves you with his own love according to his own nature. Therefore he has for you an infinite love altogether immeasurable. It is also like himself, immutable; and can never know a change. The emperor Augustus was noted for his faithfulness to his friends, whom he was slow in choosing. He used to say, “Late ere I love, long ere I leave.” Our blessed Lord loved us early, but he never leaves us. Has he not said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”? The love of Jesus is a pure, perfect, and divine love: a love whose heights and depths none can measure. His nature is eternal and undying, and such is his love. He could not love you more; he will never love you less. With all his heart and soul and mind and strength he loves you. Come; is not that a grand excuse, if excuse is wanted, for often lifting up our hearts and voices in hearty song unto the Lord? Why should we not seven times a day exult before him, saying, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen”? Oh for new crowns for his blessed brow! Oh for new songs for his love-gifts ever new! Praise him! Praise him, all earth and heaven!

Phirsts – Summer/Fruits and Flowers and Flutters

I’ve experienced several summer ‘firsts’ this week.

My plum tomatoes, grown in dollar store buckets and organic soil, have just begun to bear ripe fruit. I’m thinking of ripening these a few more days before I heat them in olive oil and a little garlic powder. Ladled over a bit of pasta, they will be a summertime treat for lunch.

I bought a few of those bargain packages of lily mixes this Spring. Usually, when I buy these mixes, the first year flowers are smallish. Oh my! This year I feel blessed because my package yeilded this amazing yellow lily. Whoo-hoo! Every time I see it I want to sing. It’s gorgeous, but the one drawback is it doesn’t have the lily scent of Stargazers and other fragrant varieties. Still…the color more than makes up for the lack of fragrance. This lily is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Next week, I’m hoping to write a series on how I save and bring to maturity Black Swallowtail Butterflies. I’ve shared these steps in the past on the blog, but hope to be a bit more thorough this year. I’ve discovered a few new tips quite by accident. Today, the first chrysalis yielded the treasure developing within. This is one of the best early butterflies that has ever hatched on my porch. It was huge. The Swallowtail climbed out of the chrysalis around 9:00 a.m. I have found most of this species emerges at this time . He/She dried off for near three hours and then flew toward the doorway of the porch. I opened the door. The butterfly was very strong and fit. It flew up to about twenty feet and was over the neighbors house and out of sight in less than ten seconds. Hurrah! I hope it finds a mate and creates many more generations of Swallowtails this summer.

Phlowers – African Daisy

My African Daisy plants are blooming. I’m thrilled! In mid-Spring, I sprinkled them on lightly-troweled soil within the confines of my butterfly/wildflower garden, and they are coming into bloom.

The colors are lovely, and even the foliage is a pleasing blue-grey. The buds are fun to watch as they open; I love seeing the first glimmer of color within the tightly folded interior.

I’m hoping one of the plants opens up into the rosy pink color portrayed on the seed packet. These flowers are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge.

I’ve kept the seed packet in my garden notebook. I grew quite a few seeds this year from the Botanical Interests line. Everything did well, and next year they will be my first choice for seeds. I found this brand of seeds at local nurseries. They are not carried in the big box stores. Botanical Interests is having a 40% off seed sale through June 17th.

The Spruce has a great how-to article on African Daisies: How to Grow the African Daisy

Preserving the Good – You’re a Grand Old Flag

FLAG DAY 2021

I put our flag outdoors this morning and felt a touch of pride in the waving stars and stripes as they gently stirred in the morning breezes. I love my country, I love the people of my country, I love the land, the sea, the sky…not too impressed with the governing bodies at this point in time….but there is always hope! I salute the Red, White and Blue. God Bless the USA.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 23 – The Grandest Thing – Jesus Loves You

It’s that simple, Jesus loves me…this I know. If you don’t believe He loves you, repeat it out loud. Jesus loves me. Open the door of your heart to Him, He loves me…He loves you too…this I know.

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

 Again, the word “him that loved us,” seems as if it described all that Christ did for us, or, at least, it mentions first the grandest thing he ever did, in which all the rest is wrapped up. It is not, “Unto him that took our nature; unto him that set us a glorious example; unto him that intercedes for us but, “Unto him that loved us,” as if that one thing comprehended all, as indeed it does.

 He loves us: this is matter for admiration and amazement. Oh, my brethren, this is an abyss of wonder to me! I can understand that Jesus pities us; I can very well understand that he has compassion on us; but that the Lord of glory loves us is a deep, great, heavenly thought, which my finite mind can hardly hold. Come, brother, and drink of this wine on the lees, well refined. Jesus loves you. Grasp that. You know what the word means in some little degree according to human measurements, but the infinite Son of God loved you of old, and he loves you now! His heart is knit with your heart, and he cannot be happy unless you are happy.

Phlowers – Common Evening Primrose

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera bieinnis) is blooming in my garden today. It is another welcome volunteer wildflower in my herb garden. Most parts of the evening primrose are edible or medicinal. The flowers also draw goldfinches to my gardens when they begin to set seed. I never trim off the dead blossoms after the plant blooms; being able to watch goldfinches alight on the long stems, and eat the seeds, is one of my summer joys. These plants grow in gardens, in meadows, along roadways, and I have even seen a few very hardy plants growing in the cracks of concrete sidewalks and blacktop.

My Common Evening Primrose is my entry in Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 22 – All Other Love…

No; there is no love like that of Jesus Christ: he bears the palm for love; yea, in the presence of his love all other love is eclipsed, even as the sun conceals the stars by his unrivalled brightness.” ~C.H. Spurgeon

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

"Think of this as being a recognizable description of our Lord— “Unto him that loved us.” John wanted to point out the Lord Jesus Christ, and all he said was, “Unto him that loved us.” He was sure nobody would make any mistake as to who was intended, for no one can be said to love us in comparison with Jesus. It is interesting to note that, as John is spoken of as “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” so now the servant describes the Master in something like the same terms: “Unto him that loved us.” No one fails to recognize John or the Lord Jesus under their several love-names. When the apostle mentioned “him that loved us,” there was no fear of men saying, “That is the man’s friend, or father, or brother.” No; there is no love like that of Jesus Christ: he bears the palm for love; yea, in the presence of his love all other love is eclipsed, even as the sun conceals the stars by his unrivalled brightness.

Phlowers – Yeti Nasturtium

Pale yellow is one of my favorite garden colors, and surprisingly, I find it one of the hardest shades to find in annual flowers. Gold is easy, bright yellow is easy, but a creamy, near white yellow is a bit difficult. You can imagine my delight this past Spring when I found a packet of pale yellow Nasturtiums in a seed display. I bought a packet with high hopes, and I have not been disappointed. “YETI” has lived up to it’s seed packet illustration, and boasts the creamy yellow I had sought for my garden pots.

Even the perky buds of this plant please me. They remind me of ponies before they unfurl their petals. The foliage, resembling small lilypads in shape, is a deep pleasing green with beautiful centers and veining. Even better, most parts of a Nasturtium plant are edible.

The plant has a robust look, but on closer inspection you’ll find a delicate interior with feathery fronds and puffballs of pollen. Did you know that Nasturtiums have medicinal properties?

I also love the Alaska variety of nasturtiums for the amazing variegated foliage.

I sowed some of my Nasturtium seeds indoors mid-winter. They did fairly well, becoming a bit leggy, but still manageable. Planted in hanging basket pots, they are already in bloom. I recently planted several more Nasturtiums in the ground. I soak the large seeds first, and then without any fanfare, just push them about a half inch below the surface of the soil. The sprouts are easy to spot, large, and with the distinctive lilypad leaf from first showing.

My “Yeti” Nasturtium is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Phlowers – Roses/Watering/Fertilizing

If you want long-lived, healthy roses with an excellent root system, watering deeply and fertilizing are the best route to follow.

When rainfall is scarce and my rosebeds become dry, I water deeply using old milk gallon containers. I’ve shared this tip before, but I’ve adapted it a bit since last posted. Roses can develop black-spot disease if their foliage becomes wet. In the past, I always managed to get my roses wet when I filled the gallon container through the narrow opening at the top. This year, I cut a hole large enough to slip my garden wand into. Since I don’t begin to add water until the end of the nozzle is in the milk carton, the rose leaves remain dry.

A small hole poked with an ice pick or a screwdriver in one corner of the milk carton bottom is all you need to get a good supply of water into the soil. Because the water flows slowly, instead of running off to the side, it sinks down into the earth where it reaches the roots of the rose bush. Rose bushes thrive on two gallons of water per week in dry weather.

I also use the gallon watering method when I feed the roses every two weeks. I scratch the dry, organic fertilizer into the soil with a hand cultivator, then place the gallon over the loosened dirt and give the rose one to two gallons of water to work the fertilizer down to the roots. With minimal effort I deeply water and fertilize my roses with this method.

This deep watering technique also works well for newly planted bushes and trees. Larger perennials also benefit from this type of deep watering.