What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 6:21 PM
Dear Bugman,
Today, I found this caterpillar on my driveway underneath a Hickory tree. It is about 1 1/2 inches long, light brown, purple dots and two, yellow, “eye-like” dots on its body behind its head. When I carefully picked it up, I must have startled it and a strange yellow, forked tongue(?) came to its defense along with a strange odor. I’ve seen many insect defense mechanisms but none quite like this. Anyway, I live in Sussex County, New Jersey (northwest) and have never seen a caterpillar like this. Looking at your photos it appears to be a swallowtail of some type. Can you identify for sure? Thanks!
Tina Newfield
Northwest NJ, Sussex County

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Hi Tina,
This is most likely an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar, but you are also within the range of the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail.  This typically green caterpillar changes color to brown or occasionally orange just before pupation.  The scent gland you mentioned is characteristic of the swallowtails and is known as the osmetrium.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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6 Responses to Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

  1. lyanavada says:

    Hi my name is Lydia. I am from Lockhart Texas and I have found a caterpillar that looks almost identical to the one that you found. the fork tongue aka snake tongue and the big eyes.

  2. Catherine says:

    I live in Saint Louis, Missouri and I found the exact same caterpillar in a park in this area. It swayed back and forth like a snake, I thought it was incredibly interesting.

  3. P Mack says:

    I have a picture of the one I found in my yard yesterday. Rochester, NY

  4. Mary says:

    I found one on my sidewalk in Clayton, NY on 9/1/14

  5. Sarah says:

    Found this same ill’ guy on my front door in Coeur d Alene, Idaho. Never seen here before in our area…

  6. dee says:

    I seen one in Cades Cove at the campground.

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