15 September 2007

Yellow caterpillar ready to go

swallowtail catrpllr2

I saw this caterpillar while taking a walk in the woods near my house yesterday. I didn't have a container with me so I resorted to the ol' on-my-head-under-the-hat method of carrying insects. The caterpillar, which was a little longer than 4 cm, behaved itself for about a half an hour and didn't do anything nasty to my scalp.

swallowtail catrpllr1

This is a caterpillar of the butterfly spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus). According to Wagner (Caterpillars of Eastern North America, Princeton Field Guides, 2005), the caterpillars, normally green, turn yellow or orange when they are ready to pupate. The color of this particular individual was very striking. It is now back in the woods and will hopefully turn into a butterfly one day.

24 comments:

Cindy said...

Wow, love those colors! My hubby brought me home a praying mantis under his hat once.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on! You made that caterpillar by drawing some eyes on a French stick with a felt tip pen didn't you? If not, it really is the most amazing looking creature.

I suppose the "eyes" are to repel predators. I never really understand that about evolution, how did natural selection work during the millenia they just looked like small blobs and did not frighten anything?

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

It all depends...Sometimes it may be better to look like a small unfrightening blob than like a pseudosnake with false eyes.

In fact, according to Wagner (Caterpillars of Eastern North America), the 1st 3 instars of this caterpillar resemble a bird dropping.

Snail said...

Wow! That is glorious. Ain't nature grand?

Anonymous said...

ran into the little guy while hiking in NY...We were convinced it was a kids toy so when I gently poked it with a stick we watched it move in disbelief...beautiful little guy posed for a few pictures on my cameraphone then I moved it off the path so it wouldn't get squashed...in looking for what it was your blog was the first hit so thought I'd drop a note, he's my phone's new wallpaper now

caterpillar engine repair said...

i agree with anon!
it looks so surreal!
but seriously? you put it on your head?
i wouldnt be able to do that!
ah!


Great post!
Cheers!
DAnny

amariel said...

I cannot look around me an believe that all the amazing hundreds of thousands different species here on earth came because of some big bang or evolution theory! There is amazing order to all things, how intricately they were DESIGNED and how they work so perfectly! There is an awesome flow to nature an the way things exsist and live, to me there is only one person I can thank for such an amazing gift! The designs of nature I believe have a ONE TRUE DESIGNER, if you look passed having to know everything scientifically an through science and what you can see with the naked eye there is faith an trusting that we were made by something so much bigger than anything we can imagine, there is nothing wrong with not knowing everything , science has brought us sooo much an its important to know it and appreciate it but I think we owe God the recognition not "mother nature"....

amariel said...

I found one of those today when I went for a walk, I actually took it with me an it has made a nest in a critter carrier I bought. Its exactly like the picture here, I have a 7 year old nephew who loves bugs an learning about them so we made a notebook to keep track of what we learned about it an what we will continue to learn. I'm not one to hold bugs in captivity cause I usually feel bad, but its just so cool to see an it will be neat to watch its growth!

Shannon street girls said...

My neighbor girls found this exact pupate in the deep woods on a rock behind our home. It's very cute, and posed quite well while I took a few pictures of it. All the while, it shook his head back and forth, never opening his mouth or attempting to jump off the stick. Quite an adventurous find for us. It looks like one of the toy bugs they make.

Anonymous said...

Obama loves caterpillars ! Vote Obama and save the environment !

F150 said...

Came upon one of these today during a walk along Pinecrest Golf Course in Alexandria VA.. It was in the yellow stage.. It never took it;s eyes off of me as I held it in my hand.. Couldn't wait to get back home and 'goggle' it to find out what it was.

Thanx for your website...

Anonymous said...

I was setting in my backyard yesterday afternoon in Ohio and felt something touch my arm. When I lifted my arm there it was with it short yellow body and beady little eyes starring at me. Scared me to death!! I first thought my son was playing a joke on me; then I saw it move. It kind of looked like creature out of a cartoon. Amazing!!!!

Anonymous said...

We saw this caterpillar today while walking to Central Beach from the parking lot in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We, too, found it astounding and moved it off the path. Saw tons of butterflies on the beach, too, at least three different kinds, but too swift to make id.

thanks for your site in ehlping to id this guy

Anonymous, Sept. 6, 2010

nadine said...

We saw this 'school bus yellow' caterpillar on a sandy path off lake mi near Michigan City Indiana.I had to identify it it looked like it had a smiley face.So wild!Ive got to see the butterfly.

Anonymous said...

Had one of these waiting for us on our porch in MO today. Never seen anything like it before... amazing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Just found one in my backyard in central Florida. It definitely looks odd, like a caricature of a caterpillar. The head on ours is big and the body is thinner. My son said he looks like a comma.

Lisa Campbell said...

We found one of these by our firepit today and wondered what it was. It took a teenager to find it for me. We were worried it might be poisonous so we moved it near a tree out of the way. I have pics and video of it.

Anonymous said...

i found one of those @the soccer fields 2dayy...i wuznt sure wut it wuz and i needed 2 go sumwhere 4 a moment... and by the time me and my friends ran over 2 find it and take pics... it wuz gone.(it got stuck on the bottum of sumones cleats)

Elysant said...

I found one of these guys a few hours ago. Thought I would give him a chance to recoup as he seemed in some distress being on the group. I thought the ants had done him in. I put him in my little bug/lizard box with some camphor leaves on a twig and grass. I misted the leaves. It has been so dry here in Central Fl. I would like to put it back but I don't think it will hang on to the skinny branches. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

We found one too on Long Island outside our home - first I've ever seen. It did look exactly like a toy, of the rubber ducky sort. Does anyone know where the eyes actually are? It did seem to be staring at me with those goggly ones - I would have believed it if they hadn't looked so painted-on. I'm relieved to find out it wasn't a mutant - thought it might be from escaped radiation from Indian Point.

Anonymous said...

I am from Long Island and found one in my backyard today. At first I thought it was a little toy but soon realized that it was some sort of caterpillar. It looked just like someone had painted its face on. Actually I found it to be kind of cute and felt like it was looking at me. Took lots of pictures and returned it to the grass. Hopefully it was find its way into a pupa and return to me as a beautiful butterfly in the spring.

Anonymous said...

We're from the Poconos and found this caterpillar out in the grass and it freaked our out daughter cause she thought the eyes on this thing was following her.(Watches way too many scary movies!) Hopefully it will turn into a beautiful butterfly and come back to visit us in the spring.

Anonymous said...

Saw one in a park today that runs along a communter train line running from Southern N.J. to Phila.

Anonymous said...

My son found one while hiking in saint peters village pa