Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars!

A good friend of ours visited us this past weekend and found our first spicebush swallowtail caterpillar! We're always scouting out spicebush and sassafras for these cool cats, but found no success until now. Thanks for your great eye Beth!

Jen & Beth checking out the caterpillars...

Early in the spicebush caterpillar's life they look like bird droppings; pictured is a 3rd or 4th instar....

The 5th instar looks like a snake! How cool is this guy? The "eyes" are not really eyes and are used as a defensive mechanism against birds. The real head is up top and tucked under a bit.

Another view of a 4th instar caterpillar. Once we found one, we found many others!

And finally, the caterpillar that caught Beth's attention, a prepupal caterpillar. Before the caterpillar wanders and finds a place to pupate (turn into a chrysalis) the body changes from green to yellowish orange. WOW!

We hiked the Dyer's Mill trail at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and found many other caterpillars on this same hike...that's part 2!


  1. I just loved how they curled themselves up in the leaves. Thanks for a great hike you two!

  2. Great photos! Hope you all had a fun weekend together:)

  3. I was searching online trying to find the difference between the different black swallowtail butterflies and their caterpillars! I was so confused to keep finding very very different images of the Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar- thanks for this great post detailing each of the instars and the differences between them!


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