Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar from South Africa

Subject: Please help me identify
Location: North west province, south africa
October 25, 2013 11:00 am
Hi, I found this creature crawling across my kitchen floor in hartebeespoort South Africa. It had red ’tentacles’ that emitted a nasty odour that it retracted. I figure it is some kind of swallowtail. Can you help me identify the species.
Signature: Jo

Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Jo,
This is the caterpillar of a Citrus Swallowtail,
Papilio demodocus, and we are guessing there was a citrus tree nearby.  Like the individual in the link we provided, your individual is most likely searching for a place to begin metamorphosis.  The adult Citrus Swallowtail is a lovely butterfly.  We wish you had been able to provide an image of the osmeterium, the forked scent gland that is characteristic of Swallowtail Caterpillars and other species in the family Papilionidae including this Fuscus Swallowtail Caterpillar from our archives.  This photo from Getty Images identifies the Citrus Swallowtail as being in a different genus, and the name Princeps demodocus may represent a recent taxonomic change.

Thank you for that response. It is great idea you guys have and it’s nice to know there is somewhere one can go to have one’s bug questions answered. Keep well.

Leave a Comment