Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) - Life Cycle 2010-11
Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 

 

September, 2010. I found four Black Swallowtail caterpillars on garden Parsley.  Despite the bright colors, they were very hard to spot.

 

 

In the following video, you can watch one feeding.

 

 

 

 

 

Resting (digesting?) pose.

 

 

 

 

 

If disturbed, the caterpiller everts its "osmeterium" as a startle defense. This forked orange structure just behind the head gives off a strong odor which some find offensive.  (I think it smells like peaches.)

 

 

Watch the osmeterium in action.

 

 

In late September, the caterpillars shed their skins to reveal the chrysalis which would serve them through the winter.

 

 

If you look carefully at the surface, you can make out the shape of the front wing (the hind wing is hidden underneath it), antennae, legs, proboscis, and eyes.  Note also the loop of silk which suspends the chrysalis from the stem.  Butterflies don't make cocoons as moths do.

 

 

May 22nd, 2011.  The first adult emerged from its chrysalis and expanded its wings.  This is a male which displays bolder yellow markings and a bit less pale blue.