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One of the most difficult things to juggle in running a plant nursery that does not use pesticides or herbicides is the management of insects. While we strive to have healthy, beautiful plants, part of our mission is to respect and support the wildlife that depend on these plants as a food source or host. Typically we allow our plants to be used by the native insects that rely on them, trusting in their resilience. This allows us to observe interactions between plants and insects in a way not many other nurseries are able to.

This cutie is the caterpillar of Papilio polyxenes, the Black Swallowtail. These caterpillars like to feed on plants in the Apiaceae family, such as carrots, dill, parsley, and Queen Anne’s Lace. We found this one on our zizia plants, which are in the same family.
Black swallowtail caterpillar

This fearsome-looking caterpillar becomes the beautiful Nymphalis antiopa, or Mourning Cloak butterfly. It feeds mainly on plants in the willow family. We found these guys eating in a large group, but when we looked for them last week they had vanished. Apparently, they move from their host plant when it comes time to wrap themselves in their crysalis.
Mourning Cloak Caterpillar

Last Updated: July 8, 2013