September 20th, 2013

This summer I have seen more butterflies fluttering around than any other year in my memory. Just as I had been wondering what was going on with the butterfly population I saw an email from Debbie Roos (a cooperative extension agent in Chatham county) all about the year of the butterfly. Butterflies are all around the farm this year, but the most abundant species I noticed had to be the eastern swallowtail. The males are yellow with black “tiger” stripes on their wings; females can be either black or yellow. The eastern swallowtail population ranges from across all the 100 North Carolina counties and since they have become so abundant they are now our official state butterfly. Swallowtail caterpillars feed on many trees but here at the farm they are all over our parsley. They are notorious to herbs and many people might have seen this guy around their garden. When they reach adult stage the swallowtail enjoys nectar from many weeds and flowers, making them a great pollinator for us! 

So what is the reasoning for the seemingly abundant population? According to Dr. Harry LeGrand, the author of Butterflies of North Carolina, is that most butterfly species did not hatch in usual time due to the cooler and wetter weather we experienced at the beginning of the summer season. While these larva didn’t hatch the swallowtail larvae were not as affected. Other factors such as parasites, predators and diseases could have also played a role in butterfly populations. Wetter weather can cause an increase in parasitic fungi, viruses and bacteria, and we have had a lot of rain this year.

While the swallowtail is out in numbers this year there are over 175 species of butterfly in North Carolina. So while the swallowtail was very noticeable this year we don’t know what next year will bring. Keep eyes open for other species and enjoy the beauty that is the butterfly.

Have a great weekend,

Ann and the Sugar Creek Crew

Spicy Bok Choy Slaw via:

1 head bok choy, finely shredded
1 cucumber, seeded and finely shredded
3 carrots, peeled and finely shredded
5 hot cherry peppers, seeded and finely

5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coarse-grain brown mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon roasted ground ginger
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1. Place the shredded bok choy, cucumber, carrots, and cherry peppers into a large salad bowl. Place the jalapeno peppers into the work bowl of a food processor, then pour in the apple cider vinegar, brown mustard, soy sauce, and agave syrup. Pulse several times, then process for a few seconds to combine. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss. Refrigerate from 1 hour to overnight. Before serving, sprinkle with roasted ginger and black pepper; toss again to serve.

Zucchini-Cannellini Toss via:

2 lbs. zucchini, cut into 2 1/2" strips
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbs. dry white wine
2 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans drained
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tbs. chopped fresh oregano
3 cups hot cooked couscous, cooked without salt or fat
1/4 cup (1 oz.) finely shredded fresh parmesan cheese

Saute zucchini in 1 tbs. olive oil for 4 minutes
Add garlic and saute 1 minute
Add wine and cook 2 minutes
Add beans and cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated
Remove from heat
Stir in basil and oregano
Serve over couscous and sprinkle with cheese

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