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Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Insect. Black swallowtail caterpillars are eating machines, growing from 2 mm (.08 inches) to 4 cm (1.57 inches). All species of swallowtail caterpillars have a special gland that secretes bad-smelling and bad-tasting chemicals to help keep predators away. They molt, or shed their skin, five times. Their coloration and appearance change dramatically as they grow. Many spend the winter season as pupae, a middle stage of development, before finishing their transformation into butterflies in the spring. The adult black swallowtail butterfly looks a lot like a poisonous cousin, the pipevine swallowtail, confusing predators.
Scientific Name Lifespan
Papilio polyxenes 3-4 weeks until pupation
Herbivore. Leaves from the parsley family: fennel, dill, carrot, celery, Queen Anne's lace, and others.
Predators and Threats
Birds, spiders, and other insects.
Open meadows and backyards wherever their favorite plants grow; ranging from southern Canada into Mexico.