Ladybug Ladybug

I’ve told you before that George and I rescue the anise swallowtail caterpillars and eggs that we find on fennel plants. The fennel gets rangy this time of year and many people cut it down, not knowing that they’re killing caterpillars. We bring the eggs and caterpillars inside, feed them fennel until they pupate into chrysalises, then release them after they emerge as adult butterflies. I rescued a large caterpillar and five eggs the other day from a parking lot in Berkeley, and the eggs have now all opened. This one is about 2 mm long.

Anise swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Today while searching some fennel near our house I found another insect – ladybugs – happily wandering around the fennel flowers, probably looking for aphids to feed on. Here’s one with a few of the characteristic black spots, and very intense red-orange color.

Ladybug on fennel

Another one’s spots were barely visible, and its color was much less red.

Ladybug on fennel

This one was moving from one flower to another.

Ladybug on fennelSome of the flowers had several ladybugs.

Ladybugs on fennel flowers

Does fennel grow on your property? Please make sure to check for butterfly eggs and caterpillars, and for other helpful insects like ladybugs, before you cut it down.

7 comments on “Ladybug Ladybug

  1. Judy says:

    Heidi: These are gorgeous photos! I don’t have fennel, but am going to be planting it after seeing these photos. Thanks for sharing.

    • Heidi Rand says:

      Thanks so much, Judy! I’m not sure what the larval host plant is in San Diego for the anise swallowtails. Do you see fennel around there? Do you remember seeing it up here in the Bay Area when you lived here? The native host plant is yampah, but it’s really hard to grow (at least up here). The fennel seeds are really delicious – licorice-y tasting and good for stomach pain!

  2. Kelly says:

    Hi Heidi, I ran across you website while doing some research on Anise Swallowtails. I also rescue them and bring them inside to raise them to release them back into the wild as butterflies. There is a bunch of us in Oakland who are participating in this. There is a Park Supervisor for the City of Oakland who started trying to save all the Caterpillar she could when ever the City cut down fennel on City Property. She got us all hooked and now I keep containers in my office in case she shows up with more Caterpillar that need a home. I kind of thought your title was funny because its Ladybug ladybug but you started talking about Anise Swallow Tails. Do you know that Ladybugs also eat butterfly eggs and young caterpillars! While I like ladybugs I keep them as far away from my Caterpillars as I can. It’s wonderful to know other people are rescuing Caterpillars out there. Thanks

    • Heidi Rand says:

      Hi Kelly, That’s so great about what you guys are doing in Oakland! I’d love to get something like that happening in our City. And I didn’t know that Ladybugs eat butterfly eggs and caterpillars. I’m so glad you let me know that, I’ll make sure to keep them away. That’s probably why I didn’t find any eggs or cats the day I found all of the Ladybugs. I’m so glad you wrote, it’s great to meet you!

  3. eastwitching says:

    Ah! delightful images – perhaps that second shot of the one which is still just mostly red has not long hatched as I just read a bit about ladybugs being yellow when they hatch! I didn’t know that. Your blog is a trove of natural wisdom – thanks – Alison

  4. Bridget Haig says:

    Heidi you should raise ladybugs too they are so funny to watch grow from that funny looking crab to a shiny new bug.

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