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