August 14th, 2007

Habaneros

Mystery citrus-munching caterpillars = giant swallowtail larva.

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.