Unopened Gifts

Black Swallowtail Eggs on the Underside of a Parsely Leaf

Once upon a time, I happened to be at one of everyone’s favorite retail giants when I noticed an Eastern Black Swallowtail flitting around the garden section. It landed on some plants briefly then flew away into the surrounding wilderness. On closer inspection, and to no surprise, the plants were parsley (the Black Swallowtail caterpillars are sometimes referred to as “parsley worms”). I had quite a “bright” idea: I would pinch the oviposited leaves and put them in the copious parsley patch in the backyard of my home. In my excited zealousness to see this beautiful insect progress from egg to adult, however, I ignorantly killed the would-be butterflies.

Detaching the leaves as I did is a great way to prevent an egg from developing into a larva. From my initial disappointment (why were there no caterpillars?!) to later my informed shame, I realized these were gifts that were never going to be opened; I had carelessly destroyed the butterflies’ hard-earned reproductive bids. It is an embarrassingly dumb way to learn a lesson, but I did: It is better to let live than to covet. It is one thing to take a gift and another to accept one. So next time, if I am so lucky to wander again into the intersection of consumer grotesqueness and nature’s miracle of rebirth, I shall buy the puny, overpriced plant and, hopefully, give a bug a parsley paradise as I had intended to.

Black Swallowtail Egg on the Underside of a Parsely Leaf


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