Swallowtail Caterpillar on Parsnips

Help! My parsnips have been invaded by Swallowtail Caterpillars!

A few days ago I noticed a couple of swallowtail caterpillars munching away on the leaves and stems of some of my parsnips. I like swallowtail butterflies and am willing to share some of my parsnips with the swallowtail caterpillars in the hopes of having more butterflies. So, I decided to just keep an eye on things and see how it goes.

But then, yesterday I counted 15 (big!) caterpillars on my parsnips and they are starting to do quite a bit of damage.

I'm not really sure what to do ....

Of course, I don't want to kill them, but I also don't want to lose a lot of the parsnips either. A few years ago I had a ton of swallowtail caterpillars on my parsley, but I had plenty of parsley to share & didn't really care if the caterpillars ate more than their share (which they did!). The parsnips are a different story though ... I'd like to get as many as possible and don't really want to lose a lot of them. The parsnips are growing really well and I had been hoping for a really good harvest!

So, do I pick off the caterpillars and try to relocate them to another plant somewhere? Or do I just let them continue munching away and hope for the best?

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Jun 28 2014

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