Sunday, August 31, 2008

Swallowtail Caterpillar

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Photographer: Neelima

Insect Scout: Neelima

: Miryalaguda, AP, India

Species Ide
ntifier(s): Debbie Hadley (

Points to appreciate:
  • This is a caterpillar of a Swallowtail butterfly. I will soon post images of the adult butterfly.
  • Notice the eye-like spots on the caterpillar. Some consider them to be predator deterrents, meaning they have these spots to appear menacing to birds and other natural predators.
  • They have, of course, defensive organs too. They have small y-shaped organs called osmeterium on the back of their heads. These organs give off a very foul odor whenever the caterpillars feel threatened. Normally these organs are hidden.
  • I thought this was a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar, but then I read Spicebush Swallowtails are only found in Eastern US. If you can identify this Indian species, do leave a note in the comment. We will include your name in the species identifier above.
Notes from Wikipedia:
  • Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies which form the family Papilionidae. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world.
  • There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica.
  • The adults are often tailed like the forked tail of some swallows, giving the insect its name.

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