...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)

7.12.2014

green caterpillar thing with fake eyes...

We were checking the bee hive one evening 
when I noticed this funky thing hanging out on a nearby tulip tree leaf:



the fake eyes are sooooo cool!
and the periwinkle dots all around, what a work of art!


I did a little googling and I think it's a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.
They eat leaves and as they get bigger, drink nectar from things like
joe-pye weed, jewelweed, honeysuckle and milkweed -- 
all things we definitely have in our little habitat here.

Apparently they do this amazing mimicry thing.
When they're larvae, they are dark brown and "look" like bird droppings, 
so no predators are enticed to eat them.
When they're closing to pupating, as this one is,
those fake eyes and swollen thorax  makes them look kind of like a green snake...
 That seems like a bit of a stretch.
I didn't have trouble telling that it wasn't a snake,
but I guess your average predator might make mistake the identity.
They're too busy scouring for food sources to take the time to really examine them, maybe.
 When these caterpillars feel threatened, they rear up 
and expose their tongue-like thing which is red and forked, helping out with the snake illusion.

Nature is just so groovy, eh?

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