Butterfly Numbers Down?

A surprise encounter with the fellow at left and a recent post on GreenGirls, the Star-Tribune’s entertaining garden blog, got me thinking about butterflies and caterpillars recently. The Green Girls note that butterfly numbers appear to be down in their gardens. While I’ve seen butterflies recently–mostly white ones, but a few monarchs as well–I have not had the abundance of them that have been in my gardens in the past.

My garden is not a butterfly garden, per se, but it has many prairie plants and they seem to attract their share of interesting insects. Yesterday, while picking raspberries, I found the caterpillar in the top photo. It took a little poking around, but it turns out it is the caterpillar that becomes the white-marked tussock moth, a very common, very plain moth. The one at left, I found on my parsley plants. According to this bug web site, which I encourage every parent of 7-year-olds or other children who like creepy things to check out immediately, the caterpillar is nicknamed the “parsley worm” and will eventually become a black swallowtail butterfly. I’ve seen those in my yard many times, and am happy to sacrifice a little parsley to their growth.

Are you seeing more butterflies or fewer this year?

4 Replies to “Butterfly Numbers Down?”

  1. I too have noticed fewer butterflies in the last couple years. Hardly any have visited mine at all this year- a stray painted lady is about all. I grow tons of plants that usually attract the swallowtail and have seen not a thing which has me scratching my head.

  2. I have noted several times how the butterfly population is very low in my area. I am from SE Pennsylvania, and I do have an environment for butterflies. It has been so disappointing that I have not seen them. There have always been an abundance of those butterflies in past years. So sad. I have seen maybe a handful of monarchs and swallowtails this year so far. I have tons of skippers – they are rampant in my garden.

  3. The Star-Tribune ran an article in today’s paper (8/17) on the reduced number of monarchs noted in many places. According to the article, weather may be the primary factor in the reduced numbers.

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