Caterpillar: Spicebush Swallowtail
Papilio troilus
Sept. 11, 2016

  Spicebush swallowtails (Papilio troilus) begin as striking caterpillars.

On the previous Thursday, one of the master gardeners at the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, in Tom Tudek Memorial Park, showed me why I had never seen a spicebush caterpillar before. The caterpillar secretes a little cocoon mixture to fold the leaf around itself.

She parted a curled leaf on a spicebush (the natural home for any spicebush swallowtail caterpillar), and there was an exceedingly young caterpillar.

Very young spicebush swallowtail caterpillar
  The white stuff you see in the photo is what keeps the leaf closed. As soon as she let go, the leaf folded around the caterpillar.

The next caterpillar is a little older, and you can see its "eyes" beginning to form.

Young spicebush swallowtail caterpillar
  The "mature" spicebush caterpillar has exceedingly attractive eyes.
Mature spicebush swallowtail caterpillar
  The master gardener told me that a spicebush caterpillar (aside from the youngest) feeds away from its leaf home.

Photo note: The photos were taken with the Pentax K3, with the SMC-A* 200mm macro lens, on 8 Sept. 2016, at the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, Tom Tudek Memorial Park, in State College, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania butterflies

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