Not moving

by Samantha W
(North Carolina)

Less than 24 hours ago, I had picked up an Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on the side of the road. It was brown, and only its forelegs and head were moving. It is currently in a large jar at my house. The caterpillar's habitat in the jar consists of two Black Cherry branches, and a lot of Cherry leaves (I read that they eat Black Cherry.) I also sprayed the jar with water from a spray bottle a couple of times so the caterpillar can have water. So far, my caterpillar has done nothing, except barely moving its forelegs and head. It also sometimes shrinks it's head back in a twitching motion. Like I said before, the caterpillar was brown, and I read that Eastern Black Swallowtails turn brown before pupating. Can you please tell me why my caterpillar is not moving??

Karen says:
I wonder if you are talking about Eastern tiger swallowtails NOT black swallowtails. The eastern tiger swallowtails are the ones who use cherry tree for the host plant. Here is information on the black swallowtail host plants. I have never tried raising eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies.

One note is that I wouldn't spray the caterpillars with water. They get the moisture they need from eating the plant.

It is normal for caterpillars to rest for long periods especially when they are molting (shedding their skin). Also, I have noticed the black swallowtail caterpillar do this.... "shrinks it's head back in a twitching motion". I noticed especially that they do this when there is a loud noise (clapping hands or something)....maybe they feel the vibration??

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