Subject: What type of caterpillar is this?
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
August 1, 2014 6:37 pm
I live in Fairbanks, Alaska and this is the first time that I’ve seen one of these. We have a variety of butterflies and moths up here, but I’m not sure what species this particular one is. Any ideas?
This is one of the Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars, and there are many regional species. We have trouble distinguishing one caterpillar from another, so we are researching ranges to help determine the species. According to TurtlePuddle on the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio canadensis: “These large and beautiful butterflies have been unusually abundant throughout the Anchorage area this summer (2002). … They are usually found in or near deciduous or mixed forests. They overwinter in the chrysalis. They range across much of Canada, Alaska, and several other northern states of the US. Adults nectar on a wide variety of flowers.” According to BugGuide, the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail ranges in: “northern US, Alaska, and every province and territory of Canada, north to the tundra” and “larvae feed on a wide variety of plants, including ash, cherry, poplar, and willow.” BugGuide also has images of the caterpillar.