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Our patio garden is graced by the occasional appearance of *huge* yellow swallowtails in late summer. Imagine wings nearly the size of my hands. No kidding.

I never connected them with the early to mid-summer waves of caterpillars that look like bird droppings and defoliate our potted citrus trees if I don't remove them promptly.

After picking close to a dozen of them off the tangerines and lemon over the weekend, I turned to Google for help in identifying them. What's That Bug has a photo of them identified as "orange dogs" about a third of the way down this page. Turns out they're the larva of the giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes).

I will continue to pick them off my citrus trees but I feel better knowing what they are.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
carhyl_a
Aug. 15th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC)
The butterflies are soo pretty...but I bet picking them of your citrus plants suck.
oddharmonic
Aug. 15th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
Once I figured out that the red antennae-looking bit was making the stink on the caterpillars, I started picking them off the trees by using a stick and gently fling them into the tree a few feet away. Our patio faces onto its lower branches.
quasiangry
Aug. 15th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
The giants are migrating through my area now and I love it. Destructive catapillars nonetheless.
oddharmonic
Aug. 15th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
Lucky you! I haven't seen any swallowtails yet this season.

If I could keep the caterpillars to just our non-fruiting tangerine, I'd be okay with that. I'll try relocating them off our fruiting tres to that one next time I find caterpillars on the trees.

We rarely have insect problems with our patio garden because we use beneficial nematodes for pest control in both our plants and worm composter and periodically hatch mantids for insect control. Last year we found a couple of monarch family caterpillars in our compost trays.
greeneyed_devil
Aug. 15th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
They do look like bird poop! I hate bugs!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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oddharmonic
Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu

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