Advice on too many caterpillars?

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Usually my Black Swallowtails are pretty good about only laying one egg per plant. But now I have some dill plants with 6-8 caterpillars on them - and some are isolated plants without any other plants for several feet around.
Do I let nature take its course and let this dumb excessive egg-laying gene die out? Or Do I try and redistribute them more evenly? If I move them around, is there a better time of day or temperature to do it at?
I was showing them to my daughter today when a tattered old female came carreening by. My daughter said "Good grief! - I think she just layed an egg on another caterpillar!"

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

They will eat them to the ground, but not the seeds, and it wont faze the plants, IF you have other plants- parsley, fennel, rue then you can redistribute the small cats, but, I would just be adding plants to what you have. No one told the butterflies there were rules to where they lay...I had a ton of cats this spring, but no clue how many survived the onslaught of wasps and grass spiders that was stinging the cats and carrying them off. You have so many burn acres around you I believe they are searching despearately for host plants this year.

Thumbnail by kittriana Thumbnail by kittriana
Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Yes, It has been a bad year for butterflies - it is just too dry.
I don't care if they eat them to the ground, but I doubt they will all make it to the final instar that way.
I am starting more plants, but that is in case there is another flight this year - I doubt they will get big enough fast enough for this bunch.
I will try and redistribute them to dill on the other side of the house, which has fewer cats visible.
Is it better to move them when they are cool and slow, or warmer and busy?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

As long as you can move them safely... You sure the dill isn't covered over there too?

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I am not sure there aren't eggs on the plants out front - but I am sure there are a lot of caterpillars out back
1 What they usually do 2 BST cats on 2 plants out front
2 Out front this morning - one cat visible lower left
3 What they are doing out back -one plant
4 What they are doing out back - whole bed

Thumbnail by pollengarden Thumbnail by pollengarden Thumbnail by pollengarden Thumbnail by pollengarden
Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

They are getting large enough to start changing soon, they look good! I think the more you plant the more you will have, chuckl, good luck!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Hi PG and Kittriana, wow. It's either feast or famine! You have too many and I've none as of yet. Aren't Queen Anne Lace a host plant for BST larvae as well? In my zone, QAL are growing wild and abundant down here. I wished I see more of them down here. Best of lucks.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I don't know about Queen Annes Lace, it is the same family, or carrot tops.
I have had them on parsley, I think I might have a egg on fennel. They didn't use cilantro. But they seem to prefer the dill to both the parsley and fennel. Parsley has the advantage of being green earlier and later. Maybe they prefer dill because I have been growing the same strain/family of BST on the same strain/family of Dill for maybe 4 generations of dill and maybe 8 of Butterflies?
This year is the first year I have gotten eggs in the back veggie garden - it has always been the front flower bed before. This is a good thing - I would like to phase out the dill in the flower bed.

Lutz, FL(Zone 9b)

Yes, they use Queen Anne's Lace as a host. When I ran out of rue to feed them, I went to the store and bought organic parsley. They ate it just fine and I released two butterflies this morning!

Melanie

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