I've been working hard in the garden trying to get it in shape for this weekend when my daughter will have her senior photos taken in the yard.
I've been struggling with some of my "weeds." You see, my garden is a haven for butterflies and moths of all sorts. Here, you can see a tussock moth caterpillar (at least I think that's what it is) chewing away on a swamp milkweed.
In fact, I have a lot of plants in my garden which drive me nuts, but I am loathe to remove them as they provide food and shelter for various sorts of butterflies. Swamp milkweed is one of them. I haven't had too much luck with getting butterflies on Asclepius tuberosa (butterfly weed), but the plain jane swamp milkweed hosts lots. I also like the smell and the flowers of the plant...what I don't like is the fact that it sends runners out to propagate my garden.
Here you can see the flowers with a monarch dangling off the bottom. The sweet scent cascades over me as I weed below it.
Here's a monarch caterpilar eating away at the milkweed leaf.
Black swallowtails prefer the Salvia bonariensis (upright salvia) and the fennel. Both freely seed themselves EVERY in my garden. The Salvia isn't too much of a problem as I can pull it out easily. The fennel, on the other hand, has a long tap root. It doesn't form a bulb like the Italian fennel, but is a purple variety. If you don't rip it out when it is young, then it is a real problem.
Other butterfly incentives in my garden include buddlea (butterfly bush), various sorts of native grasses, cosmos, echinacea, liatris, several different varieties of rudebeckia, daylilies (hemerocalis), Missouri primrose, and coreopsis. I'm probably forgetting other ones.
I have fritillaries, sulphur, Red Admiral, Eastern Swallowtail, and several other types which I have a hard time identifying. I need to find a field guide to butterflies which include the caterpillars as I'd love to know who goes with what.