As I noticed the swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley over three days, it reminded me how perspective changes everything. In my early gardening days, I always picked off caterpillars. After all, they were another pest in my garden. The connection between a caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly wasn’t solid in my mind until I studied biology in junior high school.
Who Doesn’t Love Butterflies
My first reaction at seeing the yellow and green striped caterpillars was, “Yes, finally!!” I was overjoyed to have caterpillars on my parsley. Although I planted it for my consumption, I also expected the eastern black swallowtail butterflies visiting nearby Pentas, to lay a few eggs on one of their favorite larval plants, parsley. I consciously invited these little caterpillars to my herb table.
Nature works in concert to keep the natural order in check. Birds eat insects when they are plentiful, lady beetles eat aphids when they explode and I pick off caterpillars when there are more than my parsley can survive.
I call this being a steward of my garden. With the help of my dog, Sugar, we removed most of the caterpillars from my parsley, leaving seven of the largest ones to mature into adults.
From One Animal to the Next
When I visited the parsley this morning in hopes of finding a pupae, I was horrified to find a multitude of snails instead. Snails and slugs can decimate a garden of tender plants like parsley. I set about picking them off the bare stems and breaking their shells against the terra cotta pot. Yes, I can be brutal in my garden.
Soon I realized there were too many of them to exterminate by hand. Quickly I headed to the storage building where I have a corner for all my friendlier pest deterrents. I rummaged around until I found the well hidden Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait. After reading the instructions, I decided to apply right then.
My interest in my garden is diverse.
I love the plants.
- seeing the shapes, contrast, or colors
- inhaling the aroma of my white flowers
- eating their fruit
- feeling the softness or hardness of their leaves
- admiring individual plants and carefully arranged groups
I love the birds and butterflies.
- hawks announcing their territory at the top of a tree
- red cardinals chirping and hummingbirds finding nectar
- sandhill cranes flying over with their clear rattle calls
- Gulf fritillary butterflies emerging on the maypop
- the first zebra longwing attracted to the native firebush
I admire the circle of life in nature.
- swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley
- Vermin eating fallen fruit, corn snakes eating the vermin
- bald eagles diving for fish in the lake
- alligators capturing fish or turtles in its jaws
- man hunting the alligator, eating the tail meat, tanning the hide
All my life, judgement is with me, keeping me safe by warning me the stove was hot, sometimes reducing my happiness when I judged or felt the sting of judgement from others. My pain from judgement brings tears as I write this, tears for me and for all those I judged. What is left after letting go is forgiveness, love, and caring.
My hope for you is appreciation, understanding how perspective changes everything, letting go, and love for all, especially yourself.