20 July 2011

Two-year-old carrots

Last year I planted a bed of vegetables specifically for butterflies - cabbages for Cabbage Whites, carrots and bronze fennel for Black Swallowtails, and hollyhocks for several other species (had to fence it in because we are the only house in the neighborhood without a dog, so the rabbits seek refuge here, to the detriment of various plants).

The Black Swallowtails never found the carrots (or at least never oviposited on them).  When autumn came I just cut the tops without harvesting the carrots, mulched them, and left the roots in place over the winter.  This year they used the energy stored in those roots to generate marvelous inflorescences -
- which totally resemble those of Queen Anne's Lace (the "wild carrot").  Compound flowers like these are magnets for bees, flies, and butterflies, who greatly prefer these as food sources rather than large showy single flowers.  Here is a Hairstreak nectaring on the carrot blossom -
The tiny little "tail" at the back identifies this as a member of the "hairstreak" family; I think this is a Banded Hairstreak rather than a Hickory Hairstreak or Edwards' Hairstreak, but it's not important.  What's most interesting is that he/she has a through-and-through hole in the hindwing (a bit of green shows through) probably as a residuum of escaping from a bird attack.


  1. thank you for sharing this, i never knew how carrots flower. it is interesting that you grow for the butterflies instead of the eats :)

  2. That's cool.
    Do you let nature disperse the resulting seeds?
    I'm sure that the carrots there won't be very tasty.
    I wonder how fast the bunnies would mow that all down if you removed the fence.

  3. May be you can confirm if this is true.


  4. Anon, I have featured photos of glasswings twice in this blog:



  5. gbradley, I plan to see if the plants will self-seed in the bed; the hollyhocks are also biennial and should self-seed after next summer.

    I'm sure whatever carrot root remains would be hard as a rock; I'll probably pull one just out of curiosity.

    If the fence were not there, the rabbits would make the garden look like a scene from the Wilderness Battle of the Civil War.

  6. have you tried yarrow? i have a rabbit problem as well, but they've never touched the yarrow...a good butterfly plant i've read.

  7. I've not tried planting it, but it does grow wild in our area. I know it's a good nectar plant for butterflies; not sure whether it serves as food for any of their caterpillars.


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