Saturday, October 3, 2009

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail



Click on all the photos to enlarge.
This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio glaucus) showed up on my garage door last evening. Normally when I see them they are very green but this little critter had already turned brown to blend in with the surrounding door. According to David Wagner in Caterpillars of Eastern North America, this is called countershading, “a strategy among caterpillars that helps them avoid detection by birds and other visual predators.” He goes on to say, “Countershading is achieved with graded lightening of the sides of the body: those portions of the body receiving the least amount of light, and that would normally appear darkened, end up resembling the dorsum (bottom).” You can certainly see that at work here. In fact the modeled color on the back and sides looks almost like the side of the garage door. When they are real young (early instar) they look like bird droppings. Just before pupating and making a chrysalis they turn this brown color.

You can still see the fake eye on the top of its body. The head is actually that smooth brown area at the very front hidden well under the fake puffed up head. I think this one must have crawled over from the Tulip Poplar tree at the end of my driveway. They like to munch on those as well as magnolia, sweetbay and cherry trees. This is the last brood of the season and it will winter over as a chrysalis and emerge as a butterfly in the spring.


It must have just arrived at my garage door about the same time I had because it was just lightly attached. I moved it over to the side of the house because it would never survive the constant up and down of the door. Last week I found a toad at the back door and this week a cool caterpillar so it just goes to show you never know what you will find just outside your door.

Find more fun and interesting critters at Camera Critters.

22 comments:

JD and Max said...

Wow - what a fascinating picture of a fascinating creature! We're intrigued by the fake eye - isn't naure amazing? Schnauzer snuggles - JD and Max.

Janet Creamer said...

Very cool! I have only seen them when they were green. Thanks for sharing!

Anya said...

Its amazing
I have never seen it before ;)
Fantastic critter shot !!

We love Luna said...

He is so different, I have never met a friend like that before! He is disguising!
Happy Camera Critters
purrs and love
Luna

Rose said...

I continually learn something new while blogging...great pictures and great info.

Squirrel said...

Very unique looking caterpillar. Nice photos!

Janie said...

FAscinating info on this catepillar. Countershading is an interesting process. Cool photos. I'm glad you moved him from the garage door!

eileeninmd said...

What a cool critter, I've never seen one. So now at least I know what they look like. Thanks for sharing.

Santa and Minnie said...

We have never seen it before. Maybe they are not found in this part of the world. We have some pictures of a caterpillar but do not know what is its name and species. Maybe we should post it and hope to get some info on it here.

Tabib said...

Beautiful macro shots, and thanks for the ID at my blog.

Marie Höglund said...

What a creature! Nice shot. Thanks for s´haring.

storyteller said...

Wonderfully informative post with marvelous photos. Thanks so much for sharing and for visiting Small Reflections too.
Hugs and blessings,

judi said...

fantastic vies of the critter, you are kind to care about their survival.

Teresa said...

Looks like a sea creature. Pretty neat how they camo themselves like that. I don't think I have seen one of those here in New York State. Very interesting.

magiceye said...

that sure was interesting

Tulip said...

love its brown color and looks so healthy critter. (",)

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Great photos and very informative post. We have a tulip poplar, and I have searched for these, but I only ever see the butterflies. Great captures!

Calico Crazy said...

Great photos and great information. I'm going to get my daughter to read it later as she is big into animals and insects right now.

Calico Contemplations

Della said...

I have nevver seen one like that before.

Quilt Works said...

Very educational! I can't say it is pretty :-) but this shot is fantastic, and your explanation is very interesting.


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SquirrelQueen said...

Great macros. That is so fascinating, I have never seen them like that before. I have two praying mantis egg cases I will be protecting this winter. One of them I got to see being made. Nature is so cool.
Judy

Willard said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog last week. This is a fascinating post with excellent photos.

Very informative.