Monday, October 30, 2017

Bird poop NOT

Last week, I was in the front yard, talking photos for iNaturalist observations. Elaine, a neighbor stopped by with her dog, Roscoe. While we were visiting, we saw a two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicadata) eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) flitting around. After she left, I noticed the butterfly alight on the leaf of our wafer ash (Ptelea trifoliata) and curl up her abdomen (see photo above). Ah HA! She was laying an egg! 

I was right. I found that newly deposited egg and then an older egg. Then I found some caterpillars that looked like bird poop. Larva! Awesome! I took some photos and uploaded them to iNaturalist. Awhile ago, I returned with my big camera and got some more images. Aren't they all just cool?

 Oh, those orange attachments are called the osmeterium. That's a forked gland that the caterpillar extends when it feels threatened. The gland shoots out a smelly fluid as a defense mechanism. Several times, the caterpillar below pointed its osmeterium in the direction of my poking finger.

 UPDATE November 7, 2017: More photos...


Melody McMahon said...

What an awesome post! So funny that I was thrilled when I saw those caterpillars! I'll be on the lookout for them in my yard and also at the Warrior and Family Support Center. This has been a very good year for butterflies there. We have planted lots of butterfly plants and my top favorites are Greg's blue mist flower and duranta. Next year I'll add some Mexican sunflowers that are real butterfly attractors!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Just found your comment. Sorry for the delay in posting! Yes, check out wafer ashes! I have more photos of these caterpillars to post. They're so cool.

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