A gardener took to Reddit recently to share their real-life experience of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
They shared a few pictures on the r/gardening subreddit, a page with nearly 6 million followers described as “a place for the best guides, pictures, and discussions of all things related to plants and their care.”
The post shows four pictures of potted parsley plants with numerous big, bright green, black, and yellow caterpillars on their stalks. Above the pictures reads: “Goodbye precious parsley, your sacrifice will not be in vain.”
“No it will not!! Thank you parsley!!!” agreed one enthusiastic commenter on the post.
“Peace out to your parsley and my nasturtiums,” added another.
While it may seem odd to be glad to sacrifice an edible plant to caterpillars, there are several good reasons for it.
One is that letting the caterpillars have their parsley will keep them fed and stop them from destroying the rest of the plants in the garden. Another is because these caterpillars will eventually become black swallowtail butterflies.
“Also called the parsnip swallowtail because of their love for munching on this particular family of plants,” the original poster explained in a comment. “Their caterpillars are also often called parsley worms, again referencing the same family of plants.”
The caterpillars, or parsley worms, are often abundant in gardens because they taste bad, so birds and other predators leave them be.
While this may be bad news for your parsley and other plants in the carrot family the caterpillars devour, it is excellent news for the rest of your garden and for the black swallowtail butterflies the caterpillars will become.
Butterflies are a beautiful sight, and they’re also a vital part of the ecosystem. They are powerful pollinators that will help your garden — minus the sacrificed parsley plants — thrive, and they also serve as an important food source for many other predatory species.
So, you can see why the OP was certain their parsley’s sacrifice would not be in vain.
“Next year I’m planting parsley for this!” said one user.
“Trap crops are amazing!” another in-the-know user excitedly commented. “I don’t really like radishes, but I always plant a few between my other veggies to draw bugs away from the things I actually want to eat.”
Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.