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Coastal Land Trust: Seeding pollinators in the Cape Fear Region

An Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar munches on some dill.
Kelly Kenoyer
An Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar munches on some dill.

Native plants in residential gardens are key for getting native butterflies and bees to stick around. So Coastal Land Trust gave away kits to help local families support local pollinators.

On a cloudy Saturday morning in spring, the Coastal Land Trust parking lot is buzzing with excitement. There’s a truck bed full of parsley, and kids excitedly gathered around a dill plant.

Bryce Tholen, an environmental educator with the Coastal Land Trust, spearheaded this effort to give away pollinator kits — 150 of them, to be exact.

“That will attract a lot of our local North Carolina pollinators, and give them a healthy place to eat and lay their larvae," he said. "Over here, we actually have an Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar enjoying one of the dill plants right now.”

Kelly Blanchard came for some seeds and noticed the little green caterpillars, safely protected in a mesh cage next to some dill. She said her own garden’s dill plant has been a meal for the critters.

“All the way down to the stems. But it really it's impressive. Like the first couple of years, we would take videos of them because you can see them eating,” she said.

But she doesn’t mind — the butterflies are gorgeous, with delicate black wings flecked with orange, yellow, and shimmering blue, they look a bit like stained glass.

“They're pretty caterpillars too!" Blanchard said. "Look at the colors. It's like a blue and a green and a yellow.”

The parsley also came with native wildflower seed packets, with flowers like black-eyed susans, coneflowers, butterfly milkweed, and scarlet sage.

Those native plants all support local bees and butterflies, which support the larger ecosystem of the Cape Fear.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.