Orange Dog

Subject: What the heck is this bug with a forked tongue?
Location: Culver City, California
December 13, 2015 5:20 pm
Hello bugman,
we just discovered this bug that looks like a reptile/caterpillar with a brown/greenish body with white on it & an orange forked tongue that’s on our little baby orange tree?
Signature: Cyn & Tony

Orange Dog
Orange Dog

Dear Cyn & Tony,
This is the caterpillar of a Giant Swallowtail, commonly called an Orange Dog.  Caterpillars feed on the leaves of citrus trees, but they are not known to cause significant damage to a healthy tree.  The orange forked tongue you mentioned is a scent organ called the osmeterium that releases an odor that might help to deter predators.  Adult Giant Swallowtails are the largest butterflies found in Los Angeles.  This is a species native to the eastern portion of North America, but with the cultivation of citrus crops in the west, there has been a significant range expansion.  The Giant Swallowtail was first reported in Southern California in the 1990s.

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