Friday, September 12, 2014

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

 Almost everyone has seen the beautiful and gracefull Tiger Swallowtail butterflies that visit our gardens in mid summer. 

As the flowers and warm weather have dissappeared, the butterflies have as well.


 I saw this old and bedraggled looking one last week in the prairie.  I was surprised it could still fly from flower to flower.

While these butterflies are now gone their caterpillars are finishing growing and looking for a place to make a chrysalis for the winter. 
 Tiger Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars have some distinctive features.

They are a basic green like many caterpillars, but they have special "eye" markings to use in defensive situations.

When danger approaches they pull their head back into their body, swelling the front part of their body, making it look like the scary picture below.

If that doesn't work the caterpillars have brightly colored orange scent organs they extrude from their head that emit a bad odor. 

It's defenses seem to be working for this caterpillar so far.


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