What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

caterpillars? in Florida
We live in Orlando, Florida and my husband found these caterpillars (?) on our Key Lime Tree. Can you tell us what kind they are? They had amazing long red forked tongues. We are a crowd of bug lovers but we have never seen these and they made us a bit nervous with the long forked tongue. Thank you for any information.
Andrea K

Hi Andrea,
These are Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars, Papilio cresphontes. It is widely accepted that they mimic bird droppings to avoid getting eaten. The red forked “tongue” is a scent organ knows as the Osmetrium. Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars are harmless and develop into beautiful butterflies.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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7 Responses to Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars

  1. Irma says:

    Oh scared me so bad when I seen the first one but today seen another and so scared, no one seems to know what it is says it looks like a baby snake, even the company that sprays around our home said they have never seen anything like it, but would charge me $475. To spray our lemon and orange trees. My daughter after sending her a picture looked it up and came up with your sight, I can send pictures from my phone . Someone told me there’s a worm that’s came up from Mexico but don’t know what that one looks like. I live in Southern Ca. I don’t like them killing the leafs on our trees, the Trees aren’t producing much fruit, how do I get rd of these ugly things? Thank you Irma

    • bugman says:

      The Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars are not preventing your citrus trees from producing fruit. The drought is a more likely cause.

  2. Irma says:

    Thank you so much for letting me know these caterpillar ‘s are harmless and not eating our leafs on the fruit trees. As of late I found a large grasshopper on the lemon tree, do they eat on the trees?

    • bugman says:

      We are not sure where you got the wrong impression that Giant Swallowtail Caterpillars do not eat leaves. They do in fact eat the leaves of citrus trees, but in our opinion the few leaves they do eat do not produce any lasting damage to the trees.

  3. James Wallace says:

    please post a Giant Swallo-tail picture.

  4. Katie Bauerlein says:

    How long does it take for the caterpillars to hatch , some of the ones on my citrus trees are at least 2 inches long. It’s hard to believe that a face that ugly can become a beautiful butterfly. The y are eating a lot of leaves but I would rather lose the leaves than the butterfly.

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