- The caterpillar larvae after hatching look markedly different from the late stage caterpillar I found. Newly hatched caterpillars camouflage to look like bird droppings. (Yes, you can accurately tell these newbie caterpillars that they indeed “look like sh*t.”)
- The orange “antennae”–actually a gland–are called osmeteria and have a chemical repellent (which obviously did not deter me, but does apparently deter predators such as ants.)
- Since some insect parasites that use swallowtail caterpillars as a host can locate them by smelling the caterpillar’s feces, swallowtail caterpillars use their mandibles to throw their own poop, thereby setting false trails for their predators.
- As for the swallowtail butterfly itself, if the wings are open you can tell the sex of the butterfly. A large dusty iridescent patch of blue on the hind wings = female; large bright areas of yellow spots = male (the blue patch is much smaller on males and less noticeable.)
It’s been a few days since I’ve seen our caterpillar. Hopefully he did not get munched. More than likely he has made his chrysalis and is quietly pupating. I am going to have to brave the current mosquito swarm and spend some more time inspecting the garden. Maybe–just maybe–I will find something fascinating enough to make the amount of hives I will undoubtedly acquire worth it. At the very least, perhaps I will find the cicada I retrieved that the cat caught and released in the house.