Local insects and animals – Orchard Swallowtail butterfly

This is the later instar of the caterpillar

We found an alien caterpillar on Sid’s mandarine tree, so of course we took multiple photos and tried to find out just what planet this interesting specimen hails from. We eventually discovered that this is the caterpillar of the Orchard Swallowtail butterfly. These little munchers are identified as a pest because they eat the leaves, flowers and sometimes even fruit of citrus trees. At the moment Sid is coping with the load of life relying on him for sustenance, but we will remove some of them if it looks like he is suffering. Meanwhile, we are watching the different instars of development these caterpillars go through with interest. They begin life as tiny, spiky dots who eat their way up to larger spiky lengths of bad attitude who have a disagreeable colour scheme and shoot two red stinger looking things out at you from their head end if disturbed. Eventually they lose most of the spikes and become a lovely shade of green and silver before spinning a chrysalis and gradually losing their identity to become a butterfly (just like Mum or Dad).

During this adventure I have discovered that both caterpillars and butterflies are very hard to photograph. Most of our captures are blurry or not at a useful angle, please forgive me.

The female Orchard Swallowtail caterpillar, looking a little worn
She is laying an egg in this shot, and looking a bit offended to be on camera too
This is about the second or third instar
Just about ready to pupate
A chrysalis all ready to hatch out in Spring

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