Papilio glaucusOne must really keep the eyes peeled and rolling in a fine frenzy. Look out! Down on the sidewalk, a little under 1.5″ long, easily mistaken for a turd or cigarillo butt. Papilio glaucusBut, actually, it’s the larva of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), that gloriously large yellow and black butterfly. Early instars, or stages, of this caterpillar look like bird droppings (that old camouflage trick!); middle ones are vivid lime green, with the false eye spots; the last before pupation will look like this. Tuliptree, magnolia, and black cherry are among the food plants for this species; this was next to a Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), which is an unusual street tree here. Like all caterpillars, it is a machine for eating, powering up for the biochemical alchemy of metamorphosis. Papilio glaucusShazam! I mean, shit into gold, the alchemical dream right here.

3 Responses to “Crawly”

  1. 1 elwnyc July 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    White tiger swallowtail? Didn’t realize they came in that color.

  2. 3 mthew March 10, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Reblogged this on Backyard and Beyond and commented:

    Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Catepillar: from the archives for this blog’s 5th anniversary. This was on the sidewalk thirty feet from home.

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