One of my mom’s favorite pet projects was the propagation of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, a native butterfly. I remember helping my mom collect the leaves the caterpillars pupate on, then feeding them sometimes three and four times a day depending on how large they were. It was wonderful to be in her garden when the butterflies were emerging from their chrysalis. Here is a video my dad made about the Pipevine Swallowtail years ago, with a compilation of over five years of photos.
This is the time of year to look for the caterpillars on the pipevine plant. They spend six weeks as caterpillars, which is longer than many other species and because it only eats one variety of pipevine, makes it particularly vulnerable. If you live in and around Santa Cruz, keep your eye out for these beautiful specimens.
If you want additional information on the Pipevine Swallowtail, go to the website: http://butterflyproject.org/. It’s a little out of date, but the information is still accurate.