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

Help – they are eating my herbs!
Hello Mr. Bugman;
I have thoroughly enjoyed your website; it is entertaining as well as educational. I’ve discovered it this summer and can’t wait to tell our biology teacher at school about this great site. I’m sure to be looking over the identification for this caterpillar, so would appreciate your help. These beautiful, however destructive, critters are munching away at my basil and dill. This is my first year with a small herb garden; I had no idea that I would have such hungry visitors! Would you please identify them for me. Thank you very much (sorry the picture is a little fuzzy),
Oneonta , Alabama
( North Alabama )

Hi Sharon,
Thank you for the compliment. You have Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, Papilio asterius. They are called Carrot Worms by some people. They grow into a pretty black butterfly with yellow spots. The caterpillars have the ability to emit two orange horns and a foul odor when provoked. Send us a sharper photo if you can.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

The wild anise was growing nicely in the canyon, and we have noticed the adult Anise Swallowtails flying about, so we decided to look to see if we could find any caterpillars. We found three on one plant, barely 1/4 inch long, and assume they are Papilio zelicaon. We have never seen specimens this small and are unable to locate any photos to see if we are correct. We will keep an eye on them and hopefully document their growth.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear What’s That Bug,
I was walking through the woods yesterday evening when I ran across several of these creatures. We live in the southeastern U.S….these were found near dusk in a drizzle in a forest. I have always heard of them being called ‘cherry bugs’ due to the scent that they emit when startled or feel threatened…they are between 1.5 and 2.5 inches in length, black, with yellow spots down not only the sides, but also down the center of the back as well. All markings are symmetrical. They look *very* similar to a picture I saw of a yellow-spotted millipede…the difference being the extra row of yellow spots down the center of the back….plus, the yellow-spots are from Oregon…and we are in Tennessee. I am curious to know what exactly these are, they are interesting creatures, and I’d like to know a bit more about them. Also, any care advice would be appreciated as well.
Thank you! –
Christina Loder

Dear Christina,
Unfortunately, if you enclosed a photograph, it did not arrive. Based on your description, and your latitude and longitude, I would guess that you have stumbled upon some caterpillars, more specifically, the larvae of some local swallowtail (Papilio sp.) My guess would be the larvae of the black swallowtail butterfly, which feeds on parsley and related plants including Queen Anne’s Lace which grows in uncultivated meadows. The caterpillars are green, black and yellow, and have two orange horns which are hidden near the head. When the caterpillar is threatened, the horns emerge, along with a musty smell that I would not really liken to the scent of cherries. Try this:

If you keep them in captivity, you can feed them carrot tops. They will form a crysalid and a butterfly will eventually emerge.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination