Currently viewing the category: "butterfly caterpillars"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Orange caterpillar
Location: Wyoming
May 13, 2017 9:31 am
Hi Bugman,
A few years ago, my daughter found this neat looking caterpillar. We were fascinated by its colors. We were hoping you could tell us what kind of caterpillar it is and what it turns into? We don’t see many colorful caterpillars here in Wyoming. Thank you!
Signature: Anneka & Samantha

Pre-Pupal Western Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Anneka & Samantha,
This is a Western Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar,
Papilio rutulus, and for most of its life it was green to camouflage itself on the leaves upon which it had been feeding.  Its orange color is based on its pre-pupal state as it was likely searching for an ideal location to transform into a chrysalis.  According to BugGuide:  “Males patrol canyons and hilltops. Larvae feed on foliage of deciduous trees, including cottonwood, birch, elms, willow, alder, sycamore, and aspen. They rest in shelters made of silk and curled leaves. Overwinters as pupa (chrysalis).”  BugGuide also notes the habitat is:  “Woodlands and more open areas, often near streams. Also common in cities and suburbs due to the popularity of sycamores in landscaping.”  We were able to distinguish your Western Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar from the numerous other North American Tiger Swallowtail species because of your location and this BugGuide statement:  “Larvae very similar to those of Pale Tiger Swallowtail, but black pupil of false eye-spot larger, and yellow spot inside eyespot entirely separated from it, not just notched.”  The adult Western Tiger Swallowtail is a gorgeous butterfly.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpie
Location: Central Texas
April 15, 2017 9:08 am
This little guy was outside of my house. I was curious to what he is. When I poked him he let out a forked “horn”. What is he?
Signature: Jorge

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Jorge,
This is the caterpillar of a species from a group of butterflies in the genus
Papilio known collectively as Tiger Swallowtails.  The ranges of several species overlap in Texas and their caterpillars look quite similar.  We do not have the necessary skills to provide you with the exact species of your Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar.  We can tell you that the “forked ‘horn'” you observed is a scent organ called the osmeterium that gives off a foul odor in order to deter predators.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Found on a lemon tree in FL
Location: Florida
April 11, 2017 7:55 pm
My Aunt found this fella on her lemon tree and there is debate as to whether it’s an Elephant Hawk Caterpillar or an Orange Dog. Please, help to clarify, she didn’t check to see if it had the scented appendages that an orange dog would display while threatened, unfortunately. Thank you for what you do!!
Signature: The Artist Formally Known as Starving

Orange Dog

Dear Artist Formally Known as Starving,
This is definitely an Orange Dog, the larva of a Giant Swallowtail.  The Elephant Hawkmoth is NOT a North American species.  Interestingly, though its native range is Eastern North America, most of our Giant Swallowtail sightings now come from Southern California as the butterfly’s range has increased due to the cultivation of citrus.  The species has adapted to feeding on the leaves of citrus, which is not native to North America, but it now seems to be a preferred host plant.  We believe Giant Swallowtails were first reported in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, and now they are quite common (t)here.  According to the Los Angeles Times in 2007:  “The giant swallowtail butterfly,
Heraclides (Papilio) cresphontes, is native to the Southeast. Since the 1960s, populations have spread west following a corridor of suburban development and the species’ favorite larval food source — citrus — through Arizona, into the Imperial Valley, then San Diego and north to Orange and Los Angeles counties. They’ve been sighted as far north as Santa Barbara and Bakersfield.  Numbers have surged since 2000, says Jess Morton, president of the Palos Verdes-South Bay chapter of the Audubon Society. Members have held a butterfly count at the same location, on the first Sunday in July, every year since 1991. According to their records, a single giant swallowtail was first seen in the South Bay in 2000. They counted 23 in 2007.”

THANK YOU SO MUCH. You broke it down for us and everything!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Identify
Location: Texas
April 8, 2017 6:15 pm
This bug/insect was found in Texas.
Please identify.
Signature: Mary Ann

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Mary Ann,
This is one of the Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars.  There are several species found in Texas and we haven’t the necessary skills to provide an exact species name.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What’s that Caterpillar?
Location: Mariposa area in Sierra Foothills, CA
April 3, 2017 9:09 am
We were romping around our property in the Central Sierra Foothills this past weekend and observed a A LOT of these caterpillars, predominantly on Penstemons, but not exclusively. What are they? Thanks
Signature: Kestrel

Variable Checkerspot Caterpillars

Dear Kestrel,
We quickly identified your Caterpillars as Variable Checkerspot Caterpillars in the subspecies 
Euphydryas chalcedona–a sierra thanks to this BugGuide image.  The Variable Checkerspot is a wide ranging and as its name indicates, variable species, with several subspecies.  There seems to be some question on BugGuide if this is a species, or a subspecies, and we would not rule out that it might be a hybrid, but this information is provided:  “High elevations in Sierra Nevada of California.  Remarks I have difficulty with the idea that this is a subspecies of E. chalcedona and not of E. anicia. It occurs in close proximaty to, and even in the same places as dark, more ‘typical’ E. chalcedona, yet is different. However, all the books and listings I can find place it under this species. The rational for this placement is the structure of the male genitalia. This is an overall orange butterfly that is found in the Sierra Nevada of California and a bit into mountains of adjacent Nevada.  A similar situation exists northward in the Cascades, where similarly orange-colored populations are also placed in E. chalcedona (or E. colon) based on details of genitalia.  [comment by David J. Ferguson 11-27-08].”

Variable Checkerspot Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Brown and white insect
Location: Sydney, Australia
March 3, 2017 5:44 pm
Hi bugman,
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?
Signature: Lee

Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Lee,
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.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination