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Growing on the High Plains: Swallowtails

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Something about the summer weather this year must have ushered in a High Plains party of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, because gardens have been crawling with them, even more than usual.

Something about the summer weather this year must have ushered in a High Plains party of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, because gardens have been crawling with them, even more than usual. Often found perched on parsley and dill, these striped worms of yellow, green and orange are expert gobblers and will chomp your herbs to the stalk. So this year, I found myself shuttling the creatures gingerly from plant to plant, just to ensure they have plenty to eat. Unfortunately, their forked glands weren’t always as hospitable. These butterflies are a sight to behold, and I’m happy to have played nursemaid if it meant helping them to maturity.

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit, Skip planted a garden. She began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains.