Swallowtail Caterpillar in the Native Plant Gardens

Many of the Oakland Township parks have landscaping beds with native plants. Look for the native plant beds at Bear Creek Nature Park, Marsh View Park, along the Paint Creek Trail at Gunn Road, and in front of the Paint Creek Cider Mill.

Why native plants? The short answer is that these plants provide food and habitat for wildlife including pollinators like butterflies and bees. We also know that since these plants are native to the area, they won’t become problem invasive plants if they escape from the gardens. And native plants are beautiful! You can learn more about native plants and find out where to buy them at the Michigan Native Plant Producers Association website.

This morning I found this swallowtail caterpillar in the native plant beds at Marsh View Park. It was crawling on a little bluestem plant. I’m not sure what species of swallowtail it is, but the caterpillar looks most similar to the images of black swallowtail or anise swallowtail caterpillars I found at the Butterflies and Moths of North America website. I’m curious to learn the species, so let me know if you identify it!

A swallowtail caterpillar I found in the native plant beds in the parking lot at Marsh View Park this morning.
A swallowtail caterpillar I found in the native plant beds in the parking lot at Marsh View Park this morning.
A wider view of the native plant bed in the Marsh View parking lot. This bed has an attractive native bunchgrass, little bluestem. Can you find the caterpillar?
A wider view of the native plant bed in the Marsh View parking lot. This bed has an attractive native bunchgrass, little bluestem. Can you find the caterpillar?

Here is a picture from the native plant bed at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrichium sp.) in the native plant beds in front of the Paint Creek Cider Mill.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrichium sp.) in the native plant beds in front of the Paint Creek Cider Mill. It flowered in May and June this year.

If you are a gardener, or would like to learn more about native plants, you can help with upkeep of our native plant beds. You would be trained to recognize the native plants. You would also get to help us design and continue to develop the native plant landscaping. Contact me (Ben VanderWeide)  if you’d like to learn more!

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About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

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