Subject: what caterpillar is this?
Location: Northeast Mexico
May 10, 2014 12:01 pm
Found this one trying to go up a wall for a while, put it on a branch of an avocado tree, stayed there for hours until dark, next morning it was up in the tree, shrunk already as in a cocoon. What type of butterfly will come out of it? Or is it a moth? Looks to me like some type of swallowtail?
You are correct in suspecting that this is a Swallowtail Caterpillar, but we have to research the species. It is most likely typically pictured as a green caterpillar, as its orange coloration was an indication it was ready to undergo metamorphosis into a chrysalis. Many Swallowtail Caterpillars turn orange or brown just prior to transformation. We have several similar examples in our archives, and each time, the caterpillar was associated with avocado trees. Keith Wolfe commented on one of the images: “Yes, this wandering prepupa (compare its faded coloration to this caterpillar still feeding on an avocado leaf: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missingchandra/76362584/ ) will soon metamorphose into one of the 11 or so butterflies in the ” Pyrrhosticta ” group of Papilio swallowtails — P. cleotas ,P. garamas ,P. victorinus , etc.” Here is a Keith Wolfe comment on a FlickR posting: “This caterpillar will metamorphose into one of the ‘Pyrrhosticta’ group of Papilio, subgenus Pterourus, swallowtails – almost certainly either Pa. garamas (Magnificent Swallowtail) or Pa. menatius (“Victorine” Swallowtail), depending upon which adult flies at that location. … also on avocado, a common hostplant of these two butterflies.”
Wow! Thank you Daniel,
Ill keep checking on it, hope to see it as a butterfly. I researched a bit and they stay there for two and a half months? What is weird is that its spring already so it will come out in the summer? It’s already pretty hot and should be getting worse… what I had read is that it was in a cocoon from fall to spring… could it just be a different variety? or is it just very late?
We don’t know the exact time spent in the chrysalis stage. A cocoon is spun from silk, and this Swallowtail does not form a cocoon. It has a bare pupa known as a chrysalis. If you get an image of the adult butterfly, please send it to us.
Could it be that the buttefly came out already? I can’t find the chrysalis anymore (it did look more like a bare pupa as you say, i dont know why I didnt take a picture) and there was a beautiful black and bright blue swallowtail flying around the little garden for quite a while. It wouldnt stay still for a picture though! Too busy searching for food maybe? I ll keep checking if it comes back to get a decent picture, if not, I ll send what I got. Do you think it could be the butterfly from that caterpillar so fast? it formed the chrysalis saturday night…
In our opinion, metamorphosis would take longer than two days, even in a tropical climate since heat will speed up the process.
Yeah, that’s what I think now, plus it was exactly the butterfly from this link: http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/raising-eastern-black-swallowtail-caterpillars/ it did stay in the garden for hours flying around, would come back during the day, never got a great picture as it never stood still. I guess a pigeon or something must have eaten the other one as I can’t find it anymore…
I found a few other caterpillars that look more like those in that blog from that butterfly I did see. They are all on parsley. I ll send the pictures later…
The caterpillar in your image is NOT a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar. As we stated previously quoting Keith Wolfe: “This caterpillar will metamorphose into one of the ‘Pyrrhosticta’ group of Papilio, subgenus Pterourus, swallowtails – almost certainly either Pa. garamas (Magnificent Swallowtail) or Pa. menatius (“Victorine” Swallowtail), depending upon which adult flies at that location. … also on avocado, a common hostplant of these two butterflies.”