While I'm not interested in the plants in my garden simply being bug food, I do occasionally make an exception for caterpillars, at least the ones that become beautiful butterflies, beauty to be determined by my own subjective assessment. A couple weeks ago, there were several Black Swallowtails floating around the garden, and now there is a whole batch of caterpillars chubbing up on my rue plant. Each morning I go out to eye the plant to see whether it approaching that point of no return - where the bugs have mowed down too much for it to recover. Right now, it looks okay, but there are only three caterpillars close to cocoon size and many little ones that still look like tiny bird poops.
I was hoping all the sparrows and wrens hopping about would cull the caterpillar posse down to a sustainable size, but it looks like that's not going to happen. I don't have the heart to pluck and squish, so I'm thinking of relocating some over to the parsley, some to the fennel out front, and maybe planting another rue since it seems to be so popular. I may also bring one inside for the boys to watch the transformation.
Meanwhile, the fall garden is shaping up to be vigorous this season. I think with a little fertilizer, some of the shy chards and cabbage might perk up. The last of the tomatoes are coming in, and I'm getting handfuls of pole beans every day. What I am most excited about are the enormous red hibiscus plants that I started from seed this spring. I had no idea they would grow so large! They are now covered with small red buds that will form the flowers used in hibiscus tea.