Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tiger Swallowtail

This creature (above and below) was found crawling across the driveway at Maya's birthday party. Needless to say it was an immediate hit with most of the kids, and some of the adults. Since it was found in the driveway, my old nature lore info kicked in, and I figured it was on the way to find a nice place to pupate - to perform that miraculous transformation to a butterfly. Turns out I was right about the transformation about to happen. They turn brown just before pupating --- they are bright green - to match the leaves they eat - earlier in life. Brown makes them less conspicuous as they crawl around looking for someplace to pupate. Turns out that they are a weird mottled color upon hatching from their egg - they look like bird poop at that stage . Each of these color changes helps them escape predators. Those big eyes on the caterpillar also help - makes them look more scary than tasty!
Egg below. The pictures below are all borrowed from the web. Click the ones above to embiggen.
Early stage caterpillar below
Green stage while eating leaves. Their choices -Cherry, Black Willow, Yellow Poplar, Red Maple, Elm, or Sassafrass. Probably ours ate some of the Yellow Poplar abundant in the area where it was found?Pupa / Chrysalis belowAdult

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