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Caterpillars of Eastern Forests

Swallowtails (Family Papilionidae)


Like the silkworms, swallowtail caterpillars are often brought into schools and nature centers. All possess an eversible forked structure called an osmeterium immediately behind the head on the dorsum of the first thoracic segment. When roughly handled, attacked by ants, or buzzed by a yellow jacket, the bright orange to red, sickeningly sweet smelling tentacles of the osmeterium (shown extruded in orange dog) can be everted and flailed about. The caterpillars are broadest near the thoracic abdominal juncture; the head is held beneath the thorax. Although smooth to the touch, the body is set with minute fine hairs, especially below the spiracles. Crochets of 3 (rarely 2) lengths are arranged in a row paralleling the body axis; there may be a second smaller set of reduced crochets closer to the midline.


Caterpillar Thumbnail
Orange Dog

(Papilio cresphontes)
[Giant Swallowtail]
Caterpillar Thumbnail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

(Papilio glaucus)
Caterpillar Thumbnail
Spicebush Swallowtail

(Papilio troilus)
Caterpillar Thumbnail
Zebra Swallowtail

(Graphium marcellus)


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