Our Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar (larva) is passing this August 17th morning slowly and methodically eating the leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace and other member of the carrot family.
This behavior began when the sun’s morning rays began to warm-up this wildflower bed, just at the edge of a regularly cut roadside. This caterpillar followed standard behavior, eating for 1.5 hours, and then moving down toward the ground and … out of sight for the remainder of the hot day.
Bedecked in greens, yellows and black, you have to wonder why this chubby, presumably tasty morsel can remain in full sight of so many potential predators, and yet remain unbothered? Though the adult butterfly is thought to be a mimic of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, their larva look totally different from one another. Then, too, adult Papilio Polyxenes usually have intact wings. No bit and pieces missing from predator attacks. So how do we explain the seeming protecia?
Frequent visitors to wingedbeauty.com see that we haven’t posted very many larval photos? We photograph only wild butterflies and most of our work is produced in wild habitat. Caterpillars are rarely seen there. After having spent thousands of hours afield, we can only share that butterfly larva are masters of camouflage and we are still working to attune our eyes to the subtleties that need to be honed-in on to spot them.
How will this individual spend the winter at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania…? In its chrysalis. Neat, huh?