Two weeks ago my Italian Parsley was two feet high. Then a few dozen parsley caterpillars moved in while we were out of town, and reduced it to almost nothing. Last week, my Baptisia was lush and beautiful, (of course it had already bloomed earlier but the leaves are terrific and this plant, about 4 years old, is about 4 feet tall and equally wide). Yesterday I found almost the entire top layer eaten by adult caterpillars, with about a hundred babies climbing up to the leaves on little silken threads. Wondering what is next - however I did harvest the seed pods from the baptisia - last year I had waited too long and they had spilled out. Thanks to the caterpillars, they are now stored in a bag waiting for spring.
Every time something has eaten a plant/fruit/veggie from my yard it has been balanced out somehow. For instance had an aphid invasion on spirea three years ago, refrained from chemicals and just sprayed them off with water daily for a week. These efforts rewarded when that spirea was colonized by ladybugs. Aphid problem solved forever, because the ladybugs stayed in my yard.The way I look at it is the plants send out alarms, maybe a chemical scent, that the predator insect can sense. Or in the case of the chipmunk/vole invasion that's been building for two years, the predators are just very skilled. Red tail hawk appeared one day in our suburban yard and now there are no voles or chipmunks to speak of.
alice, those bird eaters are Cooper's Hawks. you need a Red-Tailed Hawk to get rid of voles and i have no advice on moles other than thickly dribble the perimeters of your garden with castor oil. i still have moles but they don't cross the oil line.
Coopers and Sharp Shinned Hawks - depending on the season - they are about the same size, one has a straight tail and one has a rounded tail. No voles here but I think this place is the mole capital of the state. I used to pour castor oil around and in the known active holes but haven;t tried that for a while.
Ardesia, you were right. The swallowtails are enjoying our back yard - they chase each other, and their favorite flowers are the false dragon heads. They invited their friends the yellow butterflies to join them. The bees came too, but they were too fast for the camera. The baptisia looks like a war zone, but I guess these beautiful creatures are worth it.