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"I planted fennel and was rewarded with lots and lots of swallowtail caterpillars. But I only ever saw two of the crysalises. Where did they go to make them? Or are they just hidden under leaves? Is it true that if I put up a little lean-to beside the fennel that they will attach to that?" BW

Many butterfly caterpillars leave the plant and travel 100 feet or more to change (pupate) into a Eastern Black Swallowtails often go to green plants or wood to pupate. When they pupate on something dark they will be dark, like wood. When they pupate on something green, they will be green, like leaves. It's wonderful camoflage! Below are photos of chrysalises in camoflage.

It is very likely that some of your swallowtails will pupate under a lean-to close to your fennel. They often pupate on wood. A lean-to will provide a dark hidden spot for the next step in their lifecycle.

The sad part of the answer to this question is that 98% of eggs laid never become adult butterflies. Many caterpillars die from predators and disease.

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis
Black Swallowtail Chrysalis
Black Swallowtail Chrysalis
Brown Eastern Black Swallowtail
chrysalis on a stick.
Green Eastern Black Swallowtail
chrysalis from a clump of parsley;
note the green stem.
Normally simply brown or green,
chrysalises may vary slightly
yet stay within that color range.
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" I just subscribed to your Ezine & am enjoying the first issue. I have something I would like you to address if possible.
I had about 20 black swallowtails that went into chrysalis in my outdoor cage this spring. About 2 days later, I noticed very tiny wasps inside the cage. Then I noticed that each of the chrysalides had a tiny hole in it. The wasps were tiny enough to fit through the window screen mesh enclosing the cage. I don't know if the wasp larve were inside the chrysalides & came out, or if they got into the cage & bored into the chrysalides.
Do you know what this wasp is & how I can keep this from happening again? - DG


Chalcid wasps. Sigh. Chalcid Wasps

Chaldid wasps are another reason 98% of all eggs laid die before becoming an adult butterfly. Many vegetable gardeners like these wasps. They can be purchased to control 'worms' in their vegetable gardens. If you bring in the large caterpillar and finish raising them indoors where these wasps can't get to them, you can avoid these critters. They lay their eggs in fresh chrysalises and eat the guts until the butterfly is non-existant and only wasp larvae are left (see photo below). They won't fit through a fine mesh like sheer curtain material. You can buy this material at a store and use it instead of screen. The material can be sewn to make tubes which you can place over a plant or limb to protect caterpillars outdoors.
Chalcid Wasp
Chalcid Wasp
Chalcid Wasp
Calcid wasp on
a soft White Peacock
butterfly chrysalis / pupa
An open butterfly pupa
revealing a mass of
chalcid wasp larvae
instead of a butterfly developing
An empty chrysalis
the hole made by emerging
chalcid wasps visable