Another Red Pipevine Swallotail Caterpillar?
Dear What’s That Bug,
I found this in Austin, Texas at our Barton Springs trail. Is this for sure a Red Pipevine Swallotail? If so, what plants do they normally eat? I want to paint this wonderful creature and would very much like to include accurate plantlife in my picture. Thanks for your help!
Denise Garza

Hi Denise,
With caterpillars, the best way to determine food sources it to check the plant the caterpillar was found eating. Your Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar, Battus philenor, should enjoy eating upon its namesake Pipevine Family plants, such as Dutchman’s Pipe and Virginia Snakeroot. The plants have toxins in the leaves and the caterpillar absorbs those toxins which make them inedible to birds and other preying dangers. Here is a site with some nice images and information.

2 Responses to Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

  1. Nora Vaillant says:


    What a wonderful site! Thank you for helping us to identify the distinctive caterpillar we found yesterday while spending time in the desert to the north side of Mt. Lemmon near Tucson. Our group observed it for awhile and will be delighted to know it will someday turn into such a gorgeous butterfly. Do you know what time of year they tend to emerge from their chrysalides?

    from happy Canadians visiting the Sonoran Desert

  2. natural Look says:

    We live ner the Santa Cruz River in Tubac. We have Pipevine butterflies in the yard all late Spring into Fall. Our daughter spotted some caterpillers a couple of weeks ago in our monsoon overgrown yard. I have seen one butterfly so far. We will not mow until later as there are other giagantic caterpillers muching around.
    We have lots of Pipevine and a vineing milkweed being a pest to my garden at our daughters behest. its worth it.

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