Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar


 easternTigerSwallowtail.jpg

 

Common Name
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
Category
Insects
ScientificName
Papilio glaucus
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Lepidoptera
Family
Papilionidae
Genus
Papilio
Species
glaucus
SubSpecies
 

 

Description
Green with two yellow spots, each with black dots inside, plus black and orange bands and blue markings
Size
50 – 65 mm long
Ecological Role
  • Caterpillars of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feed on the leaves of a variety of hardwood trees, including birch, tulip poplar, wild cherry, ash, and others. The caterpillars are not considered pests in Kentucky, and do not cause significant damage to trees. When feeding, an Eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar curls the leaf together with silk and hides inside.
  • It is believed that the yellow "eyespots" help the caterpillar protect itself. These spots lend the caterpillar the appearance of a green snake head. Plus, like many other swallowtails, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar has a red Y-shaped retractile organ (called an "osmeterium") behind its head. When extended, the osmeterium serves two purposes. It secretes foul-smelling defensive chemicals, and it resembles the forked tongue of a snake. Despite these defenses, these caterpillars are fed upon by a variety of predators, especially birds and other arthropods, including spiders and praying mantids. Adult tiger swallowtails feed only on nectar. Birds and predatory arthropods eat them also.
Fun Facts
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the most common woodland butterflies in Kentucky, and can be seen by the hundreds during certain times of the year.
Food
Leaves of several hardwood trees, including tulip poplar, ash, birch, and wild cherry
Cover
 
Nest
 
Breeding
 
Eggs
 
Habitat
Woodlands and meadows
Kentucky Distribution
Statewide
Life Cycle
Four developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult (complex, or complete, metamorphosis); in late spring, summer, and early fall, adult females lay eggs on the leaves of the host plants fed upon by the caterpillar stage; caterpillars feed for several weeks, molting (shedding their skin) several times as they increase in size before forming a pupa (called a "chrysalis" in butterflies) and emerging as adult butterflies; the pupa is the overwintering stage
Life Span
 
Life Stage
 
Reproduction
 
Seasonal Changes
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail overwinters as a chrysalis, which is the pupa stage for a butterfly.
Spawning
 
Status
Abundant
Uses
 
Voice
 
Young
 
What We Can Do
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar depends on hardwood forests to thrive. It is important to preserve Kentucky's forests for this and other butterfly species.
Host
 
Diagnosis and Control
 
Interesting Facts
 
Contributed By
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service
Website
http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/CritterFiles/casefile/insects/butterflies/swallowtail/swallowtail.htm