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
Location: Sussex County, New Jersey
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28 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.

  7. Christine says:

    Found one in the park here in Bronx, NY. My kids and I were so fascinated! Every time we attempted to touch it, it swayed back and forth as if to say “No”, so needless to say we let it go on its merry way. Nature is so wonderful 🙂

  8. diane yager says:

    Found one in parsons ks. What does it turn into

  9. Amy says:

    found one in Albuquerque NM today.

  10. Christy says:

    I found one on a peach tree. I live in Marion Sc

  11. Regina says:

    I was on my porch this morning and i looked down and one was staring at me small eyes and blue dots on the head and has a tongue as well i live in Vancouver Washington. I’ve never seen one before today.

  12. Ziko says:

    Saw one identical to the photo in the Okanagan Lake Provincial Park (near Peachland,BC,Canada). It did the ‘snake sway’ that another cocomment mentioned. So cool!
    Finally found out what it was, thanks to this site.

  13. Nick says:

    Found one in my driveway this morning and it was bobbing back and fourth like it was dancing and big yellow eyes and forked tongue . Zombie looking lol !

  14. patty says:

    Found one yesterday across from Buttermilk ski area in aspen

  15. JoAnn says:

    I found one on my porch today while taking my dog out. He didn’t sway back and forth nor did he have a forked tongue unless he just didn’t stick it out but he looks identical to the pictures. I live in Woodburn Indiana and I’m a veterinary technician and I have never seen one. I thought he was cool looking because it looked like he was standing on all fours like a dog or cat. Is this the same kind of caterpillar?

  16. Patti says:

    I found on here in Anchorage AK

  17. Ken Denny says:

    Just found one in Chapel Hill, NC

  18. Robin Haley says:

    Just found one in North Idaho. When I picked him up no scent or forked tongue but super cute. Crawled around on me for a few before I let him go on another plant in yard as he was on a hose and we didn’t want to hurt him. What do they pupae into!

  19. Fernanda says:

    Just found one ! I’ve never seen something like that before, got my attention the “eyes” and the strings coming out of his mouth with that odor. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

  20. Manuel M. Lopez says:

    I live on in Soledad California and found one that matches the picture. My 4 year old son and I are always looking for new creatures and had ever seen anything like it.

  21. Doris Conway says:

    I live in Cabot Arkansas. I found one in bag of mulch when I emptied it out.Kept it as none of us had ever seen one before. Kept in in plastic soda bottle then got clear plastic container and put dirt,potting soil and mulch,along with branch for it to climb.This morning it was not moving much and was much smaller. When I emptied it into new home it had some web like ilaments sticking to bottle. Going to try to let it develop in house. Put some tomato leaves in container for it to eat.Do I need to sprinkle water in there?

  22. Billie Jo And Trenton says:

    My son found one we are in Springfield Mo , our little guy also stood up (kind of like a cobra) and we are in love. lol he is the coolest looking friend we’ve made in while. We already have found several cocoons this year so we are making him a cozy home and we’re gonna wait him out. I bet he’ll (or she’ll) be beautiful!!!! he’s turning brown so he’s almost ready. In case you couldn’t tell we are very much excited and will keep you posted…..

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