Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

black swallowtail caterpillar

The Black Swallowtail Caterpillar changes dramatically in appearance as it develops.

After it hatches, it is a tiny black caterpillar with a white spot. black swallowtail capterpillar just hatched (left)It is suppose to look like a bird dropping to divert its predators.

black swallowtail caterpillar

As the caterpillar molts, it eats the skin as you can see in this picture (right).

The caterpillar continues to grow and as it sheds its skin new patterns and colors appear.........notice the interesting transformation below!!

black swallowtail caterpillar

black swallowtail caterpillar stages

One interesting fact about the Swallowtail Caterpillars is that the have an orange "forked gland", called the osmeterium.

When in danger the osmeterium, which looks like a snake's tongue, ejects and releases a foul smell......all to repel predators! (right)

If you try your hand at raising Swallowtails, you will be able to see this unusual feature by gently pressing behind the head.

Black Swallowtail Host Plant

There are several host plants or caterpillar food for the black swallowtail. I have used Parsley, Bronze Fennel, Dill, Queen Anne's Lace and Rue Ruta.

A favorite is Rue in my garden. Rue can irritate the skin when touched (I haven't had a problem with this) and can make you sick if eaten, so be aware of this before planting it.

The next stage in our journey is the black swallowtail chrysalis....

Raise Swallowtails | Caterpillar | Chrysalis to Butterfly

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