Category Archives: Butterflies

The Last Monarch

I thought the great migration of monarch butterflies from the Northeast to Mexico had ended. It had been weeks since I’d seen a monarch in my garden. But today I spotted this straggler on the main street of Hoboken, sampling … Continue reading

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Butterflies in the Broccoli

The black swallowtail butterflies are gone for the season. The remaining caterpillars have formed their chrysalises and will spend the winter encased in their crisp armor. But that does not mean that all the caterpillars and butterflies have necessarily vanished … Continue reading

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Got Milkweed?

At the entrance to Hoboken, my hometown, are several signs: “Bike-friendly community,” “Nuclear-free zone,” and even “Mental condition stigma-free zone.” I’d like to add my own sign to the group—one that is at least as accurate as those: “Butterfly-friendly zone.” … Continue reading

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Madame Butterfly

Ever since the first black swallowtail caterpillars turned up in my dill patch, I’ve been referring to the little guys as “him,” provoking some friends and relatives to accuse me of being sexist. Well, now I know that (for the … Continue reading

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The Caterpillar Rescue League

Nineteenth-century Americans were obsessed with butterflies. They called them “flying flowers” and “flying jewels,” in the words of Augustus Radcliffe Grote. But in those days, butterflies were more plentiful than they are today. Walt Whitman described walking down country lanes … Continue reading

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Rescuing Dilbert (the Caterpillar)

Nature seems to unfold so effortlessly. Flowers bloom, pollinators arrive, caterpillars form their chrysalises and emerge weeks later as splendid butterflies. Well, sometimes it’s that easy. Sometimes it isn’t. The second of my black swallowtail caterpillars, whom I dubbed Dilbert, … Continue reading

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Pilly’s Progress

There are few mysteries as deep as the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Watching a caterpillar shed its skin multiple times and emerge as a little creature with entirely different markings is amazing enough. To see the caterpillar form a chrysalis … Continue reading

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Wake Up and Smell the Dill

I bought a $30 salad spinner today—for my black swallowtail caterpillar. No, I’m not going to wash him and spin him dry. The large, clear plastic container (minus the inner spinner for greens) is the temporary refuge that I’ve outfitted … Continue reading

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The Rescue Caterpillar

I know it sounds like a children’s story, but this is no tall tale. It’s the story of how I ended up with a rescue caterpillar. Seriously. My father-in-law has been following my exploits with black swallowtail caterpillars. So when … Continue reading

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Caterpillar Mamma

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. When an adorable little black swallowtail caterpillar appeared one day on the late-summer remains of my dill, I dubbed him Pilly the Kid and began looking out for his welfare–making trips to … Continue reading

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Metamorphosis Begins!

Ever since I found a black swallowtail caterpillar in my dill, I’ve been obsessed with the tiny creature and even given him a name–Pilly the Kid. Now Pilly’s moved on to the next phase of his mysterious life. Late last … Continue reading

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The Secret Life of a Caterpillar

Suddenly, inexplicably, I–a confirmed non-pet owner, who rolls her eyes at the endless stream of cat videos on the Internet–am now gaga over the little black-swallowtail caterpillar that’s taken up residence in my dill. Every morning, I come out and … Continue reading

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Beetles and Snails and Mites, Oh My!

My father was a saint–or slightly dotty, I’m not sure which. An Episcopal priest who was highly influenced by the Quakers, he was a gentle soul who, in his later years, would ask permission of flowers before picking them. If … Continue reading

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Butterfly Season

My butterfly bushes were late bloomers this year, what with all the overcast skies we’ve been having. But once their purple blossoms began emerging this week, it took less than a day for the butterflies to arrive. Leading the pack … Continue reading

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