Orange Dog

Subject: Say What??
Location: Chunchula, Mobile County, Alabama
May 11, 2014 6:28 am
This is the second of these I have found hanging around on our citrus trees. Never seen anything like it before. Got any ideas?
Signature: Thomas J. Kelly

Orange Dog
Orange Dog

Hi Thomas,
This is the caterpillar of a Giant Swallowtail, commonly called an Orange Dog.  This native species has adapted quite well to feeding on leaves of introduced citrus trees, which has resulted in an increase in the range of the species as the cultivation of citrus has spread in North America.  This formerly eastern butterfly is now a common sight in Los Angeles where citrus is often cultivated in backyards.  The Orange Dog has two interesting means of protecting itself from predators.  First, it resembles the droppings of a bird, so predators will often overlook the Orange Dog.  If that fails, the Orange Dog, like many other caterpillars in the family Papilionidae, possesses a forked organ known as an osmeterium.  When disturbed, the organ is exposed and it releases an odor some predators find offensive.

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