Currently viewing the category: "butterfly caterpillars"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Subject: Caterpillar orgy
Location: Antigua, Guatemala
October 13, 2014 8:40 am
Hey Bugman,
I was planting a bunch of ginger in my garden here in Antigua, Guatemala yesterday and noticed an odd discoloration on the base of my lime tree.
When I went in a bit closer I realized it was about three dozen of these caterpillars, who decided to crop dust me en masse with their osmeterium (or as I prefer to call them, Angry Caterpillar Fart Getaway Tubes®.)
What gives? Did the Caligula of caterpillars suddenly move in, or is this some kind of protective herd behavior against predators?
Also, any help in identifying these little hedonists would be appreciated.
Thanks!
Signature: Ornery Regarding Gassy Youths

Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Swallowtail Caterpillar Aggregation

Dear Ornery,
These sure look like Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars to us, a species in which the caterpillars are social, often being found in large aggregations.
  According to the Butterflies and Moths of North America, the caterpillars of the Ruby Spotted Swallowtail, Papilio anchisiades, feed on the leaves of:  “Trees in the citrus (Rutaceae) family including Citrus, Casimiroa, and Zanthoxylum species” and “Caterpillars rest in clusters on host plant during the day and feed at night; they all feed and molt at the same time.”  This communal activity must have some survival benefit for the species, and the group effect of the olfactory defense mechanism must be more effective than the smell produced by a single individual.  The adult Ruby Spotted Swallowtail is a pretty butterfly.

Thanks so much for the rapid reply! The Ruby Spotted Swallowtail is indeed quite beautiful. I have been a big fan of WTB for years and it has helped me identify dozens of critters. Keep up the great work.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Orange caterpillar (?) with face on it’s back?
Location: West Virginia
September 24, 2014 3:01 pm
Our kindergarten classes were outside on the playground at recess and found this bug. It has spots that appear to be a mouth and eyes on its head. We looked it up and thought perhaps it was a Pandora sphinx caterpillar but aren’t sure. My fellow teacher and I would love to know what it is so we can tell our classes more about it!
Signature: Welch Elementary Kindergarten

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Welch Elementary Kindergarten,
This distinctive caterpillar is a Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar.  The false eyespots might help protect the tasty caterpillar from predators like birds that may mistake a toothsome caterpillar for a much larger and potentially dangerous snake.  Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars feed on a variety of trees, including “Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum), Pondspice (Litsea aestivalis) Red, Swamp and Silk Bays (Persea spp.); perhaps prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), and Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)” according to BugGuide.  They begin life as green caterpillars that are well camouflaged, but as the time for pupation nears, they often turn orange, leave the trees they have been feeding upon, and find an appropriate site to metamorphose into a chrysalis.  The adult Spicebush Swallowtail is a beautiful black butterfly with colorful markings.

Thank you so much!  We looked it up on the Smart Board and discussed the life cycle. We printed a picture of the butterfly so we can watch for them in the spring.
You have a great site!
Mrs. Merkle

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Some sort of catterpillar?
Location: Central New York
September 21, 2014 10:31 pm
Summertime in central new york. No idea what this bug is
Signature: Mac F

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Mac F,
This is the caterpillar of a Tiger Swallowtail.  Recent taxonomy has resulted in the classification of several different species based on the range, and several different species, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail have ranges that overlap in your vicinity.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Catterpillar
Location: Vernon, BC
September 13, 2014 4:43 pm
My boys and I found a Catterpillar. We can’t find what kind it is.
Early September in Vernon, BC Canada.
Signature: Poppy’s

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Poppy’s,
This is one of the Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars, and based on your location, our best guesses are either a Pale Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar (see image on BugGuide) or a Western Tiger Swallowtail (see Bugguide for image).  The orange coloration indicates that this individual is nearing the time to metamorphose into a chrysalis.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Stalker Bird!!!
Location: Negeri Sembilan, MALAYSIA
September 6, 2014 11:41 pm
7 September 2014 2:00 p.m.
Hi again. I will have two id requests today, if you don’t mind. This is my first;
I was out in the garden photographing bugs (I have recently discovered the world of macro photography). Around the porch area, I found a bird thingy. It scared the living daylights out of me. Upon closer looking and some poking via a stick, I figured it was a moth pupa, but I don’t know which moth caterpillar make it. Above it, there is a single strand of silk. It is about 7 cm (3.8 inches) long. Is it a bird decapitated by a spider or a pupa. If it’s a pupa, what pupa is it?
Signature: TFO (Totally Freaked Out)

Swallowtail Chrysalis

Swallowtail Chrysalis

Dear TFO,
The quality of your images is quite poor, however we are able to distinguish the outline of the Chrysalis of a Swallowtail Butterfly in the genus
Papilio that was intact prior to your poking it with a stick.

Swallowtail Chrysalis

Swallowtail Chrysalis

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Western Tiger Swallowtail
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
August 16, 2014 11:59 AM

We had to stop pulling weeds long enough to clean our hands and grab the camera.  Several Western Tiger Swallowtails were flying about the garden and nectaring from the plumbago on the neighbor’s hill.  It wasn’t so long ago that we lamented that we couldn’t get a decent image of the large Swallowtails sailing about as they never seemed to alight.

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Western Tiger Swallowtail

We even managed to get shots showing both ventral and dorsal surfaces.

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Western Tiger Swallowtail

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination