Tiger Swallowtail

A couple of caterpillars of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.
When they are in their early stages or instars, they look a bit like bird turds.
But when you look closer, your larger-than-average predator brain will note some curiosities. The “eyes” are fake, by the way.(Some caterpillars pretend to be twigs…)
As they get older, the caterpillars get greener, blending into the leaves.
The final instar looks like a cigar stub! I haven’t seen one of these lately, but some years ago I met one on the sidewalk.

There photographs were taken over a period of a week and half, all on the same sweetbay magnolia. Not sure how many individuals these represent. I never saw more than two at a time, but there were a lot of leaves out of eye-sight.

3 Responses to “Tiger Swallowtail”


  1. 1 NJUrbanForest July 21, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Nice pictures! I have never seen this caterpillar in person yet!

    • 2 mthew July 21, 2020 at 4:56 pm

      I’ve been on the look out for one for a while. Something else caught my eye on this young white oak, and this just jumped out at me. Figuratively speaking.

      • 3 mthew July 22, 2020 at 4:04 pm

        Um, I was thinking of tomorrow’s post, which features another species entirely, when I answered this! As noted in the original post above, these Tiger Swallowtails were found on a sweetbay. Found some on another sweetbay last year, after learning they are a food plant. The late-stage instar was near a tuliptree, another of the Tiger Swallowtail’s larval food plants.


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