Location: Still Bay, Western Cape, South Africa
February 19, 2011 10:13 am
Hi. I have a caterpillar that has decided to attach itself to our carport. Would love to know what species it is and how long we need to watch till it emerges again.
This is the caterpillar of a Swallowtail Butterfly in the family Papilionidae. We believe it is the caterpillar of a Citrus Swallowtail, Papilio demodocus. You can compare you individual to this image on FlickR or this image on WebShots. We hare happy you sent us images of both the pre-pupa and the Chrysalis. The Chrysalis of most Swallowtail Butterflies is unique in that it is supported in an upright position by a girdle of silk.
Keith Wolfe provides some information
Yes, if healthy, your chrysalis will metamorphose into a Citrus Swallowtail — aka Christmas Butterfly, because adults are often commonest in December, and Orange Dog, because its caterpillars can be pests of young orange trees and related plants — in about 10 days. BTW, here is a better image for you to compare (the above Flickr link shows an unusually marked individual, while the Webshots photo is misidentified): http://photocamel.com/gallery/data/1138/Papilio_demodocus_final_instar_Gillitts_14_Mar_09.jpg.
Update from Galye
February 28, 2011
Thank you so much for your quick reply. Loved the photo links you sent. Unfortunately we missed the butterfly coming out of the pupa stage. Have some photo’s of the pupa casing that was left. Would love it if you could send me a link for some photos that show the butterfly emerging.
Thanks for the update and new photo, and we are sorry you missed the actual transformation process. Alas, we were unable to quickly locate an image of a Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, but we did get documentation of a newly emerged individual in 2007. We also located this image of a Giant Swallowtail emerging from the Chrysalis on the Science Photo Library website.