The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar is a very unique kind of caterpillar. It is typically known by its bright green color, but it actually changes color several times during its caterpillar life stage. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is most commonly found in the south eastern part of the U.S. but can be found in other forest regions in North America.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars start their lives as round, green eggs on the leaf of a plant. The egg is rather large for a normal butterfly egg, and will turn more yellow in color with red spots before hatching. It will take about a week for the egg to hatch. The caterpillar will then spend its days eating the leaves of the plant while it grows, they eat a lot. When the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has completed the caterpillar stage of its life, it will form a chrysalis around its body from silk strands. The chrysalis will hang from a solid object (such as trees, houses, or fences) for the duration of the pupa stage of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail’s life.
When the caterpillar first hatches from the egg it will be a brown and white color. As it gets older, it will become a green color and develop two eye spot near its head. When it comes time to form a chrysalis, the caterpillar will turn brown. The different colors and marking on the caterpillar are meant to detract birds. Birds don’t like the colors or smells of the caterpillar, and they can be fearful of the caterpillar because of its eye spots. Having different colors and markings as defense mechanisms allows the caterpillars to be able to live and develop into their adult form.
When the caterpillar is not eating, it can hide to protect itself by wrapping up inside of a leaf. It can pull a leaf around itself and secure it with silk so that it can rest safely.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in its green caterpillar stage is very unlike other caterpillars. With its green color and eye spots it looks like a mini-snake which gives it great protection from predators. These characteristics also make it an easily recognizable caterpillar and one of popular study.
The adult form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is easily recognizable as well and is popular in North America. It is the state butterfly of multiple states including Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The adult butterfly is mostly yellow with black wing tips and black stripes.