Subject: Brown and white insect
Location: Sydney, Australia
March 3, 2017 5:44 pm
8 of these have appeared on my mandarin tree this morning. Are they a danger to it?
We’ve just moved from summer to autumn, and I love right near the central city, if that helps?
This looks like an early instar Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, Papilio aegeus, based on an image posted to the Brisbane Insect site that states: “The first and second instars larva closely resembles a fresh bird dropping. The larva feed singly on food plants. They usually feed during the day and rest by night on the upper side of leaves.” The fifth or final instar larva is an impressive caterpillar that will produce a forked, red osmeterium, a defense organ that releases a foul odor that will dissuade predators. If this is a mature tree, it can handle losing the number of leaves eaten by eight caterpillars, and you will benefit from having adult Citrus Swallowtails flying in your garden.