Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

I found this on my deck. Can you tell me what it is? I have attached a couple of pictures.

It is the caterpillar of a Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. This is a large, graceful yellow and black striped butterfly. The caterpillar is fond of wild cherry and other trees. Those false eyes are meant to scare hungry birds into thinking the benign caterpillar is a ferocious snake.

8 thoughts on “Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar”

  1. My mother discovered our dog was playing with what looked like mulch at first, come to find out it was a brown caterpillar. Later, we learned that it was a tiger swallowtail caterpillar. My cousin and I decided to keep it.
    We put it in a big jar with some grass, leaves, twigs and a drop of water. We learned how to take care of him until he turns into a beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly.
    Finally, my question was how long does the caterpillar stage take? He/she looks like it is a full grown caterpillar. And we want to know when it will go into it’s chrysalis- then turn into a butterfly?

  2. Hi!

    I just wanted to thank you for posting this information! My students and I just found this caterpillar at recess in Mexico City, and we went on an info hunt to find out what it was! We live very close to Chapultepec Park, and your picture and behavior descriptions really helped us be sure we knew what we found!

    Miss Ellie’s 4G Class!

  3. I found this same caterpillar ( tiger swallowtail ) in the Brown stage, on my
    deck. I live in the southern most part of Alabama, on the coast. My
    Question.. is it odd to flnd this caterpillar this far south?? I have never
    seen one before !
    Thank you James Gulf Shores, Alabama

  4. Hello all,
    My daughters found one about a month ago on our patio! In Camp Verde Arizona! We promptly put it into a big glass vase and put dirt, sticks and a bunch of home grown dill with him and he is a cocoon now! Now we just have to wait until may or June next year for it to come out! 😉 we will let y’all know how it goes!

  5. Saw one identical to the photo in the Okanagan Lake Provincial Park (near Peachland,BC,Canada). It did the ‘snake sway’ that another cocomment mentioned. So cool!
    Finally found out what it was, thanks to this site.

  6. I live in Fairbanks Alaska and found one on my lawn today. 8/24/17. I have never seen anything like this in Alaska.
    He was the brownish color, not sure if he is suppose to be in alaska but this year we have major bitch tree and wiliows effected by insects and disease.

  7. My grandchildren and I, found this strange looking caterpillar headed towards the flower garden…Fist time seeing one here in North Carolina.


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