Every Summer, the Swallowtail caterpillar plows through entire harvests of dill. I have not one year seen my Mom and Grandma's gardens escape their presence.
This year, I planted an unusually large amount of herbs, and my patch of dill was a large portion of my herb garden. Within a few weeks of the time I planted my seeds, my garden was full of them.
They would grow fat with bellies full of dill, then one day disappear. A few days later tiny baby swallowtail caterpillars would be in their place...sometimes as many as 15.
Michael's little brother spent a good amount of the Summer with us, and one night, Michael and him devised a plan only two 16 year old boys could come up with. $20 would be paid to his brother if he ate one of my caterpillars.
"Why not? It's $20."
I tried everything. I begged, lied, told him they were acidic and warned him against the foul odor they spray when predators come around. That last part wasn't a lie...but I did tell him that they taste like bile and sour dill.
They probably do.
The reason I finally gave him was the one I gave Michael when he told me to get rid of them, and how they were pests to my garden.
One day, they will wake up and not be these little dill-destroying creatures. They will be worth more than $20.
The evening before his brother left to go back home, I was outside, picking the last of my herbs for the season. Trapped inside the tomato and strawberry cage was a little something I called him outside to see.
It was one of our little swallowtail caterpillars, all grown up.
To see this transformation happen within two weeks is breath taking. And I knew there was a reason why this year, I planted enough dill for the two of us.
This is the Black Swallowtail...our Oklahoma State Butterfly. It's a huge part of what I saw growing up here, and to me...that is worth more than all the $20 bills in the world.
song is "Ripe" - Givers.
Thanks for the weather encouragement and teething tips, friends. Last night, a few hours after I posted, we got our rain.