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“Make Mine Dill”

Paul Nelson

"Make mine dill" — said the black swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes) crawling over the dill in our garden boxes. They're welcome to have it; we can't possibly consume these monster dill plants, beyond what we use for seasoning and salads. What amazes me is how the female butterflies can smell dill over great distances, and so deposit their eggs on the right plants.

Posted by Paul Nelson on Tuesday, June 26, 2018

“Make mine dill” — said the black swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes) crawling over the dill in our garden boxes. They’re welcome to have it; we can’t possibly consume these monster dill plants, beyond what we use for seasoning and salads.

What amazes me is how the female butterflies can smell dill over great distances, and so deposit their eggs on the right plants. A friend of mine points out that these Lepidoptera “can detect host plant volatiles via their antennae at concentrations of less than 10 parts per billion.”

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.

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antennaeblack swallowtailbutterfliescaterpillarconcentrationdilleggsgardenhost plantinsectsintelligent designLepidopteranatureolfactionPapilio polyxenesreproductionsaladseaoningvolatiles