Early instar of swallowtail?
Hello –
I love your site – I am amazed at what people will put in their hands. Anyway, I have been using the fab book Caterpillars of Eastern North America to try and identify some caterpillars in my veggie garden in Southern New Jersey but think I have become a bit to eagle eyed as they are all very small and none of them seem to be in the book! I think I am not versed enough in the various instars and color variations that caterpillars can come in. This is the most recent caterpillar my husband and I have found. She was on a dill plant that is smooshed between tomato plants. She appeared on June 25 in the evening. Only about 1/2″ long. The white bands in the middle are really throwing me. Who is she? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Jessica Ferguson
Woodbury, NJ

Hi Jessica,
Caterpillars undergo five instars, each followed by a molt. The fifth molt results in the chrysalis stage. Each of the five caterpillar instars results in a larger size, and in some species, a radically different appearance. This early Black Swallowtail instar looks nothing like the fifth instar caterpillar with the distinctive black and green stripes and yellow spots.

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