Orange dog caterpillar of giant swallowtail butterfly


Number 66 ; July 30, 2009 ; Jeffrey K. Barnes



Giant swallowtail, orange dog

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus and species: Papilio cresphontes Cramer


Giant swallowtail butterflyOrange dog

Arkansas homeowners occasionally find odd looking caterpillars defoliating small, potted citrus plants. These caterpillars, which are protected from predation in part by their resemblance to fresh bird droppings, are known as orange dogs. They will eventually pupate on the original host plant or travel a short distance to pupate on a fence or other vertical object. The adult that emerges from the chrysalis has a wing span of 3 ½ to 5 ½ inches. The upper surface of each forewing is black with diagonal yellow bars, and the lower surface is mostly yellow. Adults take nectar from many kinds of flowers and can be seen flying in open, sunny spaces, forest clearings, fields, gardens and citrus groves in the eastern United States (and within the past 50 years in Arizona and California), Caribbean islands, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. They also sip liquid from mud and manure. They lay small spherical eggs on the upper surfaces of host plants, which include several species in the citrus family, Rutaceae, and a few other plant families.