Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sick caterpillars....NOT

The other day, I spotted what I thought were "melting" caterpillars on our rue plants. So I contacted a biologist who specializes in insect viruses and wrote him that I had some sick caterpillars to mail him. Imagine my embarrassment yesterday when I returned for a closer look and realized that we have a new species in the garden! These are giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) larvae! Well, don't they look sickish to YOU? Actually, they resemble bird droppings, another one of nature's cool camo defenses. 

Like black swallowtails, giant swallowtails also host on rue.
 Touch a head, and the osmeterium (scent gland) pops out. Neat-o!

1 comment:

Molly said...

We have those funky looking cats on our Rue, also. Actually we put in a dozen Rue plants just to give them food to eat.
They also chow down on lemon and lime tree leaves, giving one of their nicknames, Orange Dog - provided by the citrus growers in the south who consider them a huge pest.

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