parsnips skeletonized

.. and it happened in no more than five days. I was away on a trip, and the parsnips looked good when I left. I see no caterpillars, though a caterpillar must be because the leaves are eaten completely except the veins. Five plants, interplanted amongst the tomatoes, are affected. Three other were not. The main parsnip crop, 15 ft away, is unaffected so far. Culprits? remedies? I may spray them with Sevin.
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simy1 said:

If it was a caterpillar, a prime suspect would be parsley worm (the larva of the black swallowtail butterfly). They will feed on fennel, parsley, dill, and other members of the carrot family (Apiaceae).
Like many swallowtail larvae, they start out resembling bird droppings. When older, they develop an extrudable gland behind the head which emits a strong odor to ward off preditors.
http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/johnson/hort/Butterfly/BlackSwallowtail.htm
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Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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It also could have been these:
http://home.centurytel.net/Katraslink/ChewedHorseradsishAndWorms.jpg
I've had a HORRIBLE time with these little bastards! I can't even grow Cauliflower or Brocolli in the spring, only in the winter when it's too cold for them! They also attack the swiss chard somewhat, but don't do major damage. Here, in this pic', they attacked my horseradish.
Sevin has done zilch to control them.
I need to, and intend to, go to the nursery and get some bacillus thuringiensis.
It is supposed to be superior for caterpillar control!
I finally moved my chard into 1 gallon pots inside the greenhouse to keep the moths off.
I've hand picked hundreds of these worms off my chewed plants. :-(
Dawn and dusk......
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K.

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Thanks to both of you. I am pretty sure it is a swallowtail because I have seen several of them (they are beatiful) nearby. I have had a good experience this year with the 'pillars, otherwise, simply because I have put the dish of a houseplant pot in each garden, filled with water (clearly I will continue that. It has also helped a lot with keeping the birds off the raspberries). The cabbage 'pillars, for example, have been exterminated (there were many early on, before I tried the water dish), and I have the best crop in five years. Evidently the swallowtail bugs are too strong tasting for the birds. I also have monarchs on the milkweeds, also left alone by the birds.
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