Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Genus-Species: Papilio polyxenes

Description: Young caterpillars resemble bird droppings: dark brown with white “saddle.” Older larvae are bright green with black dashes and yellow dots that form bands on each body segment. This coloration is cryptic: it camouflages them with their environment. However, caterpillar color is variable and some be predominantly black.

Chrysalis: Mottled brown or gray; or green with yellow highlights. Color depends on season and surface texture. The short day lengths (photoperiods) of fall produce brown pupae.

Host Plants: Alexanders - Heart-leaved golden alexander (Zizia aptera), Golden alexander (Zizia aurea), Yellow pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima), Sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii), Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) and Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea)

Habitat: Open areas; fields, meadows and parks where its larval hosts are found.

Comments: The Black Swallowtail is a common butterfly in Wisconsin. It commonly feeds on many different members of the Parsley family, including parsley, carrots, dill, and parsnip. It may also feed on Common Rue (Ruta graveolens), a domesticated herb.

Adult Butterfly Profile
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Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about caterpillars. This quiz is intended for fun, in a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.

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