Last summer we had some borage come up as volunteers in our garden. Did I say “some”? I meant thousands of plants. We didn’t have borage plants, we had borage patches.
This was our first year with a borage explosion, so we thought we’d let some of it live, not realizing just how hardy it was going to be.
Before we got to the explosion point, one day Chad and I were sitting in the garden looking at it and discussing whether to leave it or not.
Then Chad noticed visitors on a few of the plants.
He pointed out caterpillars, and poop, and some webbing, where cocooning of some sort was happening.
Chad pulled one of the caterpillars off and was about to squish it, and then I yelled at him to wait. Did he know for sure what it was? Maybe it wasn’t a pest, maybe it was a beneficial insect.
He waited and I ran in to check on the computer for caterpillars attracted to borage. Bingo! I was right.
These caterpillars were not pests at all. While they do nibble on borage a little, they do very little damage.
And later they turn into beautiful painted lady butterflies.
Chad put the caterpillar back and left it to its wiggly ways.
A month or so latter I caught a glimpse of a butterfly in the garden – and recognized it instantly. It was one of the caterpillars we had spared on our borage plants.
Working in the garden is fun if you are garden nerds like Chad and I are, but it is even more satisfying when you have beautiful butterflies enjoying the plants that you have provided – intentionally or not.
For me, gardening is great when it’s about growing your own food, but it’s even greater when you also provide habitat for wildlife.