Thursday, 15 September 2011

Giant Swallowtail caterpillars

Since 2006 there have been more and more sightings of Giant Swallowtail butterflies  (Papilio cresphontes) in our region, and now the caterpillars can be found on prickly ash, one of their favourite food sources.  September is the month to find mature caterpillars, fattening up before forming cocoon or chrysallis, or crawling into some crevice or shelter and overwintering as caterpillar.  The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar resembles a big bird dropping, helping to camouflage it from predators.  Another tactic to ward off predators is by popping out bright red tentacle-like osmeterium.  Caterpillars in the photos below were found north of Perth Road Village.

                                                                               Photos: Rose-Marie Burke

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