It was a logical question. Why do I always plant fennel in a few of the pots on my deck? I’ve made some wonderful salads with thinly sliced fennel bulbs and blood orange, but for the most part I’m not a fan of the flavor. And yet every year without fail, I have pots of fennel, and by early July they have been gnawed back down to the ground.
The first year I planted fennel I noticed the plants were being eaten at an alarming rate. They were covered in what appeared to be dried bird droppings, but on closer inspection turned out to be tiny bugs of some sort. Could have sprayed them, but chose to leave them. The bugs rapidly grew, in direct correlation to the shrinking of the gnawed fennel, into amazing looking neon green, bright yellow and black worms. Intrigued, I took a photo and then headed in to the computer for a little research. In a short time I had my answer to what these creatures were, and several weeks later I was treated to the beautiful finale of their life cycle, the black swallowtail butterfly. They were everywhere!
Lessons learned: If you want beauty in your life, then you have to provide an incentive. At first glance something may look like a mar on what you are trying to achieve, but if you just wait it out the results can be way better than your original vision. Today’s pest may be tomorrow’s treasure.