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Spicebush Swallowtail larvae

Papilio troilus


Spicebush Swallowtail larva go through three color stages as they develop.In their first moltings they are brown and white and look like bird droppings. In their mid stage they are a brilliant green. The last instar these caterpillars are a deep orange red. Photo: Late instar (orange red) and third instar (green) larvae.


These caterpillars can be found rolled up inside leaves of their host plants camphor and spicebush. The larva weave tiny pads of silk which curls the leaf around them to create a shelter.


The Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) is a remarkable butterfly at every stage of the game. The adult butterfly is quite large with a wingspan of three to four inches across. This species displays sexual dimorphism which means that males and females have different coloration. Males have hind wings with a pale green to yellow coloration. Females display a blue iridescent coloration which imitates the distasteful Pipevine Swallowtail as part of the Swallowtail mimicry complex. Pearly white spherical eggs are laid singly on the undersides of new growth of host plants. Larva host on Spicebush, sassafras, tulip tree, sweetbay magnolia, camphor , and redbay where caterpillars create leaf shelters and use them to hide from predators. Larvae start off brown in color but molt to a brilliant green. Late instar caterpillars appear a bright orange or yellow in color as they prepare to pupate. The large eyespots of these caterpillars can startle predators and people. Their chrysalis can be either green or brown in color. In Greek mythology Troilus was the beautiful son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Some stories include Troilus and his sister Polyxena being set upon by Achilles while watering their horses. In this version of the tale Troilus seeks sanctuary in a temple of Apollo but Achilles catches up to the boy and murders him at the alter. Other tales from mythology depict Troilus in unequal combat with Achilles who prevails in the battle. Troilus and his love for Cressida are subjects of plays by Chaucer and Shakespeare.

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209 Comments (1–25)

dylanjamesjoaquin a week ago

I would love to see these.

Desmond.E.S.O 3 months ago

Wow! Those are Amazing!

francesca1 3 months ago

wow they are funny

iness1 5 months ago

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa how ceaut their are

jokrwx3 7 months ago


GreenBugs 7 months ago

totally agree, very nice look at two different instars

metulippatch 8 months ago

That is amazing!!

agustin3 11 months ago

they are very good

santi3 11 months ago

They are stickits .And beatiful

alana1 a year ago

how nice

KristenGilpin a year ago

@Abby Ccga: I just chose to ignore the comment and hope something got lost in translation.

Abby Ccga
Abby Ccga a year ago

@country-day-guana "that's very impressive for a woman"??? Ignorant sexist

matiasd1 a year ago

they are amazing!!

emiliavin1 a year ago

they are so beautiful

micaela1 a year ago

they are very biutiful

mauricio1 a year ago

They are beutifals.

ILoveAnimals a year ago

Its amazing oh my!!! Nice 1😀

WildlifeCrusader a year ago

The camouflage may be there to make it seem like a snake, but I find it adorable. ~<3

HazelMarley a year ago

I have to say, they are adorable. Great picture!

bg11a17 a year ago

So beautiful! They don't seem real, they are so wonderful that it seem a painting!

the reptile man
the reptile man a year ago

ok that is cool creepy and cute all at the same time

Pedro Beirão
Pedro Beirão a year ago

Beautiful. Almost like a drawing or a fine painting..

JanineLingTurner a year ago

that is amazing!

that's very impressive for a woman well I guess it's pretty good for everyone

Darvesh a year ago

This photo is always fresh, no matter how many times you see it !

Florida, USA

Lat: 28.05, Long: -82.40

Spotted on Oct 5, 2010
Submitted on Jul 26, 2011

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