We found this caterpillar in the yard and took some pictures that are attached. Can you tell me what type of butterfly this is? Thanks,
This is a Spicebrush Swallowtail. They feed on spicebrush, sweet bay, sassafrass and other trees. It becomes a beautiful black butterfly with green markings.
Question about the name
August 31, 2009
Hi… a friend was getting my assistance today in identifying a caterpillar. She later said that she found it on your site and that it was a “Spicebrush Swallowtail.” I instantly thought that it should be “Spicebush” Swallowtail (bush, not brush), so I came to your site to investigate. Sure enough, you had four or five entries (found via the search option) where they were called “spicebrush” swallowtails.
I think this is an error and that it should be “spicebush,” but I’m not an entomologist and will defer to your expertise. Just wanted to alter you, or be educated myself. 🙂
The letter you cite is an older posting to our site, and though we have seen both spellings in our research, we agree that the common name Spicebush is more appropriate. In our childhood, we referred to the butterfly as a Spicebrush Swallowtail, and that name stuck for a long time. Often errors become established as alternate names. Though we are not correcting this spelling in our archive, we do take note and all recent postings are identified as Spicebush Swallowtails.