Currently viewing the category: "swallowtail caterpillars"
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Subject: A new creature for me
Location: SW Orange County –
June 3, 2017 1:17 pm
I have lived in NC, in the woods, for over 25 years but this was new. I didn’t even know where to begin looking it up: Beetle? Bug? Caterpillar? Poisonous for my hens or safe?
Signature: Virginia

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Virginia,
This is the caterpillar of a Pipevine Swallowtail,
Battus philenor.  Adult Pipevine Swallowtails are lovely greenish-blue butterflies with orange spots on the undersides of the wings.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillar is quite distinctive, may be a mimic of the tropical onychophorans, called velvet worms. Dark brownish black (occasionally smoky red) with soft fleshy tentacle-like projections, usually red-orange dorsal warts over abdomen. Tentacles on T1 twice as long as those on following segments. ”  We are post-dating your submission to go live later in the month when our editorial staff is away on holiday. 

Thank you!  Yes, what a beautiful butterfly from such a distinctly different caterpillar.  And the caterpillar was so large!  I really appreciate learning more about my friends in Nature.  Virginia Leslie

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:  Our editorial staff will be on holiday for a few weeks, so we are post-dating submissions to go live during our absence.  We hope you enjoy this gorgeous series of images of the life cycle of the Anise Swallowtail

Subject: West Los Angeles sighting – Anise Swallow Tail #1
Location: West Los Angeles
June 1, 2017 12:19 pm
Hi Daniel,
Here’s the first of my sets of pictures you asked me to trickle in. Since I can attach only 3 images, I’m going to send in 4 sets for the swallow tail. If this is too much, please let me know.
Hope you enjoy these.
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Anise Swallowtail Eggs

Thanks Jeff,
We will put together a nice life cycle posting with the images you have sent.  We will distill them down to the best images and we will postdate your submission so it goes live during our absence mid month.  We feel we have to provide you with a challenge though.  Your spectacular life cycle images are lacking critical two stages.  We hope someday you can capture the actual emergence of the adult from the chrysalis, and of course, we always love to post images of mating insects to our Bug Love page.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar: Early Instar

Newly hatched Anise Swallowtails somewhat resemble bird droppings which may help to camouflage them from predators.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

As they grow and molt, later instars of the Anise Swallowtail Caterillar take on the characteristic green color with black and yellow spots.

Anise Swallowtail with Osmetrium

When threatened, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar reveals its osmetrium, a forked orange organ that releases a foul smell to deter predators.

Prepupal Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

As pupation time nears, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar spins a silken girdle to help keep it from hanging down.

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis with Chalcid Wasp

This Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis is being visited by a parasitoid Chalcid Wasp.  Here is a posting from BugGuide that shows a close-up of the Chalcid Wasp.  Butterfly Fun Facts has an excellent description of this Parasitoid, including:  “A healthy chrysalis will have light membranes between its abdominal segments. As wasps grow inside the chrysalis, the membranes turn dark.  Infected chrysalises turn darker and often have a reddish tinge to them.  Remember! When a chrysalis is first infected (eggs laid in the chrysalis) it will appear healthy, have the correct colors and shades, and will move normal. Once the wasp larvae have grown for a few days, the color of the chrysalis will darken.  A chrysalis that has a mature butterfly inside it will also turn dark the day before the butterfly emerges. If a butterfly is inside, you will see the wing pads the day before the butterfly emerges. If it darkens and wing pads cannot be seen, it is a danger sign.”  Unfortunately, a percentage of Swallowtail Chrysalides will never produce an adult if they are preyed upon by parasitoid Chalcid Wasps.

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis

The Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis darkens just before an adult is ready to emerge.

Anise Swallowtail

This is a gorgeous, adult Anise Swallowtail.

Anise Swallowtail

Ovipositing Anise Swallowtail

And the cycle begins anew as a female Anise Swallowtail deposits her eggs on the host plant.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Pleasant Surprise!
Location: West Losangeles
May 26, 2017 11:41 am
Hi Bugman,
I’ve been planting fennel for years to attract anise swallowtail butterflies with sporadic success. Can’t tell you how surprised I was to see a parsley plant covered with caterpillars. I counted 14, but there are probably more. Did a bit of research and learned the plants the larvae eat are in the carrot family, so, I guess parsley is in the carrot family?
One thing I didn’t like about fennel is the caterpillars are exposed and easily seen by predators. With parsley, at least when they are small, the caterpillars are hidden by leaves.
Thx, Jeff
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

Congratulations Jeff,
We are concerned that 14 caterpillars will soon defoliate your parsley plant and that without any food, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars will starve before reaching maturity.  You might want to consider buying a few more parsley plants to help ensure survival.  We occasionally find Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars munching on carrots and parsley in our own garden.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

Hi Daniel,
More parley is on my list.
I have another question for you: Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of the butterflies we’ve lured into our back yard (including caterpillars, chrysalises and eggs). Would you be interested in them or know of any organizations that could use them?
Thx, Jeff

Hi Jeff,
Hundreds arriving at one time would be overwhelming for our tiny staff, but trickling them in slowly to our site would be wonderful.  Please continue to use our standard form for submissions and please confine your submissions to a single species.  Eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides and imagos or adults of the same species arriving together though would be most welcome.  We are especially curious when you first documented the Giant Swallowtail and its caterpillar the Orange Dog as this species was first reported in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, we believe.

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