Ladybug Ladybug

Ladybugs adorn the flowers of a fennel plant.

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. The attached photograph is an extreme closeup, the caterpillar is only about 2 mm long.

Today while searching some fennel near our house I found another kind of insect - ladybugs - happily wandering around the fennel flowers, probably looking for aphids to feed on. The first photo is of one with a few of the characteristic black spots, and very intense red-orange color. Another one's spots were barely visible, and its color was much less red. One ladybug was moving from one flower to another, and some of the flowers had several ladybugs.

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.

Click here to see the original post on my blog.  And click here to see more of my nature photographs and artwork on my website.

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