Posted by: buzzybeegirl | August 13, 2008

The answer is (drum role)…

The caterpillar stage of the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Yes people, that ‘thing’ that looked like bird droppings will grow up to be this beautiful butterfly. You can see more pictures of beautiful butterflies and moths by clicking here.

These butterflies have a large range of distribution. The Giant Swallowtail tends to feed on the new leaves of citrus trees. You will find the females flying around citrus trees laying their eggs on new tasty leaves (tasty to the caterpillars). The Giant Swallowtail is cool because of their defense mechanisms as caterpillars. As a caterpillar you are vulnerable to predation by birds. So what is a slow moving caterpillar to do? Well, there are 2 things this little critter does to stay alive. First, they have these structures near their head called osmeterium. This organ emerges when the caterpillar is harassed and sprays a foul smelling substance. It is pretty bad. I did harass them to get a whiff. I swear I stopped teasing it after that.

The second defense these critters use is camouflage.  What is less appetizing than bird droppings? Would you want to eat bird droppings if you were a bird? I don’t think so. What a defense huh. Smart little critters. Once again I have shown you how smart insects are. So much for being wordless on Wordless Wednesday. Too much exciting stuff to keep me quiet.


  1. Well, I was close! 😉

  2. nice shot! i didn’t know about the stink defense.

  3. You win a virtual bee beanie baby James!

  4. I think Alfred was closer!


  5. sad news. i went home for lunch and guess what…
    there was a dead one of these in my driveway near the road.
    i can’t believe it.

  6. Maybe a bird got to it? Sometimes their wings get clipped by birds who try to eat them. Or maybe it was just natural causes?

  7. Great Post 😀
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly’s tale~

    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

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