Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Welcome visitors

I will plant just about anything that is reputed to be attractive to butterflies or hummingbirds. I've tried to include host plants for butterfly larvae, especially for the varieties that have a very specialized diet, even when the plant is not very showy. Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars eat pipevines, plants in the Aristolochia family. Dutchman's Pipe is a huge climbing vine. I don't have a suitable place for such a big thing and blanch at the thought of encountering fat black worms at eye level. Or horrors, having them drop on me from above. Instead I hunted far and wide and found one source for Virginia Snakeroot, Aristolochia serpentaria. Rod Angeroth runs Loess Roots and sells well grown, bare root plants. A few years ago he very kindly let me have some seeds and I grew the first few dozen plants myself.

From TTH200811

From TTH200811

Late this summer I discovered an odd caterpillar crawling along my front sidewalk. It was unlike anything I had seen before so I got the butterfly book and found it was a PVS caterpillar! I tenderly picked it up on the end of a stick and carried it over to the bed with the snakeroot. OK, maybe that doesn't sound very tender but there's no way on earth I'm going to touch one. I found about a dozen more cats busily devouring the snakeroot plants. My young neighbors made the same discovery and brought their caterpillar to be admired. I explained what it was, showed them the snakeroot that it eats and loaned them the butterfly book to accompany the thing in to school for Show and Tell. I'm told that it spun itself a cocoon while in their custody.

I decided I didn't have nearly enough plants so ordered some from Rod. He shipped some great plants, much larger than my own two year olds with nice thick root systems.

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