Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

A Friends of Princeton Open Space board member found this caterpillar on her front door one day in July, and just recently found out what it is. Though we have lots of the butterfly's favorite host plants--spicebush and sassafras--growing in Princeton woodlands, particularly since the browsing pressure of deer has been reduced, I have never seen one of these caterpillars. The one that showed up at Brownlee McKee's door might have something to do with a spicebush her landscaper planted just two weeks prior, and so it's hard to know if this particular caterpillar originated in Princeton, or was transported with the shrub from some distant nursery.

Below are her notes, and a link she found to a wonderful photo portrait of all the different shapes a spicebush swallowtail takes as it grows towards adulthood. Thanks to Brownlee for sending the photo and info.

07/16/09 Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar on front door of house within a couple of weeks after setting a Spicebush 15 feet from the door. How the 'pillar got there, past 10 feet of boxwoods, over five feet of brick paving, and a foot or two up the door, is a mystery. It was a striking sight, with the sun bringing out its bright yellow against the dark green of the door. In this picture the pale background and some shadow dulls the bright yellow.

Here's a website with many photos and more info.

1 comment:

  1. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it