Currently viewing the category: "swallowtail caterpillars"
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Subject: What type of caterpillar is this?
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
August 1, 2014 6:37 pm
Hey,
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?
Signature: Chris

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Chris,
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.

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Subject: Moth larvae group
Location: Chichen Itza, Yucatan
August 1, 2014 1:52 am
Hi
Can you identify this group of, what I guess are, moth larvae. These were in full view at the base of a tree at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.
Many thanks
Regards
Signature: Bernard Collen

Aggregation of Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars

Aggregation of Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars

Good morning Bernard,
Though this is behavior that a person with some knowledge of insects might suspect would indicate that these are moth caterpillars, this is actually an aggregation of Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars.  The Ruby Spotted Swallowtail is a lovely butterfly.  This social behavior is likely a survival strategy.

Aggregation of Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars

Aggregation of Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars

Thanks, Daniel, I am surprised!  I had assumed they were moth larvae.
Thanks again for your prompt reply
Best regards
Bernard

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: is this a orange swallowtail
Location: Grand Junction, CO
July 19, 2014 9:49 am
what is this? my cat brought this in the house today. I took it away from her and put it back outside
Signature: Tracie

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Hi Tracie,
You are correct that this is one of the Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars, which look very similar, and the orange color indicates that it is getting ready to pupate.  Several species are reported from Colorado according to BugGuide, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Pale Swallowtail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unidentified caterpillar
Location: houston, tx
July 14, 2014 8:53 am
Hi. Found a bunch of these guys yesterday eating my anise plant and nothing else..
People are calling them monarchs, but, I do not agree.
Your input would be most interesting.
Signature: Angela gumerman

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Angela,
You are correct to recognize that this is not a Monarch Caterpillar.  It is a Swallowtail Caterpillar, and considering the Texas location and the anise food plant, it might be the caterpillar of an Anise Swallowtail,
Papilio zelicaon, though BugGuide does not report the species as far east as Texas.  The caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, looks very similar and it has a more eastern range, and though BugGuide lists food plants as:  “Larvae feed primarily on plants of the carrot family (Apiaceae = Umbelliferae), and some in the Rue Family (Rutaceae). Commonly found on Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Carrot, and Rue in gardens, and Queen-Anne’s-Lace, Poison Hemlock, and Lovage in the wild. They will occasionally be found on Citrus trees”, we believe they will also feed on anise.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: New pet at new home
Location: Encinitas, CA
July 7, 2014 9:02 pm
Hi, my husband and I just moved to Encinitas, CA (San Diego County) today (July 7th) and found this guy welcoming us at our new home, munching on our lemon tree. He’s a cutie (and a little scary with that face!) and we want to let him chow down, but want to make sure he’s not an invasive/destructive species. Any ideas what he is?
Signature: Allison in Encinitas

Orange Dog

Orange Dog

Dear Allison,
This is an Orange Dog, the caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail, the largest butterfly found in southern California.  Giant Swallowtails are native to the eastern part of North America, however, when citrus was introduced as a crop in Florida, the Giant Swallowtail adapted to feeding on the leaves of the introduced trees.  As the cultivation of citrus spread in North America to include Arizona and Southern California, the Giant Swallowtails expanded their range as the food was readily available.  though not theoretically native to Southern California, the Giant Swallowtail is native to North America, the the damage caused by the feeding caterpillars is relatively insignificant.  If you disturb the Orange Dog, you will likely get to see the osmeterium, a forked organ that releases a scent to deter predators.

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Subject: Western tiger swallowtail caterpillar?
Location: Santa fe nm
July 5, 2014 9:05 pm
Found this super handsome caterpillar in our yard! He looks pretty close to finding a place for his transition
Signature: Sjhizny

Swallowtail Caterpillar near to pupation

Swallowtail Caterpillar near to pupation

Dear Sjhizny,
There are several butterflies similar looking to the Western Tiger Swallowtail that also have similar looking caterpillars, so your location is helpful in narrowing the possibilities.  According to BugGuide, species other than the Western Tiger Swallowtail,
Papilio rutulus, which range in New Mexico include: the Two Tailed Swallowtail, Papilio multicaudatus, and possibly the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, which is reported as far west as Texas and Colorado and possibly the Pale Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio eurymedon.  The coloration on this individual indicates it is approaching the time to transform into a chrysalis.  Your image is quite stunning.  

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination