Help! Beautiful Yellow Worms Devouring my Dill Plants

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I found these critters on my Dill plant this morning. They blended in with the plant seamlessly.  Note, the above  picture does not do this eating machine justice.  He (or she) is  bright yellow and green.  Very vivid.

What the dark green spot on my hand? Yes, that is poop from the worm. He pooped while I was holding him.


So, what happened with them?  I threw them in the bushes far, far away from my dill.  Note, the dill is right by my cabbage plant as a companion plant to deter cabbage loppers.  (BTW, the cabbage loopers were not dissuaded at all and ate some of my cabbage plant.)

These little buggers ate a lot of my dill plant.  Help.  What are these?

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  1. 1


    Those look really cute but I have no idea what they are. Perhaps you should let one or two hatch. Thats fun for the kids too. At the moment I have a cabbage white chrysalis on the back of my door and I left it there just for them to see. I have no idea if it will hatch but it is interesting.

    viv in nz

  2. 3


    Yes, those are indeed the caterpillars of the black swallowtail butterfly. Also known as parsley worms, these larvae feed on plants in the dill/carrot family, including also parsley, fennel, and even Queen Anne’s lace. You can read more about black swallowtails here:

    In my own garden, I’ve planted some dill and parsley in a butterfly area. When I find the caterpillars in my veggie/herb garden munching on the plants I want to harvest, I just collect them and move them to the host plants in the butterfly garden instead. That way, I still get to watch the caterpillars molt and pupate, and eventually become beautiful butterflies, without giving up my entire crop in the garden.
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..Bug of the Week – August 26, 2009 =-.

  3. 5


    If you want to deter them and other land locked insects, trying spreading used coffe grounds around the base of the plants. I know that slugs will not cross the grounds.

    • 6

      Green Talk says

      Hyla, good idea. I will try this next time since most the time I put the coffee in my composter. Worms love it.

  4. 8


    this is the first year i have ever encountered these pests. the worms are small but can they ever eat/destroy a dill plant. also, they stink. found a way to get rid of the stink – wear good garden gloves, then put them in a smmall can of gasoline. looks like they will wipe out this years dill

  5. 9

    Valerie says

    They only stink if threatened. It is their defense system- trying to smell like they won’t taste good. These are amazing creatures.

  6. 13

    Cindy Lu says

    Good grief! I love black swallowtail butterflies! If I would’ve known that’s what these worms were that were devouring ALL my dill for my pickle making, I wouldn’t have had my husband kill them all!! He did say they stunk when he ripped them in half to kill them. Now I feel horrid.

  7. 15


    They will lay eggs all summer long so you will still find more if you have any of the following plants: Parsley, dill, fennel, queen anne’s lace, carrots, asparagus and any other plants in the parsley family.

    If you plant their favorite flowers ( (scroll down to the bottom for the list) they will come as adults to feed in your yard too. They are majestic and beautiful. I just plant extra to feed the babies. Their fall batch will overwinter and emerge in May. I bring them in and store them in the garage, protected from spiders and other predators for the winter.

  8. 16

    Denise says

    I have the beautiful worm on my dill. I thought probably it was a butterfly in progress, so I just went out and picked most of the dill. I needed the dill for a seafood pate I am making. It has now moved to the parsley. I have plenty of parsley to share.


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