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Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Genus-Species: Papilio canadensis

Description: Young caterpillars are brownish-black with a white “saddle” which makes them resemble bird droppings. Later instars are bright green with small eyespots behind the true head, enabling them to resemble a snake. Immediately before pupation, caterpillar color changes from green to brown.

Chrysalis: The chrysalis is either mottled brown or green, depending on the time of year and the structure to which it is attached. Brown chrysalides usually occur in the fall and overwinter.

Host Plants: Leaves of various plants including wild cherry (Prunus species), Birch (Betula species), Aspen (Populus species), and possibly American mountain ash (Sorbus americana) and Showy mountain ash (Sorbus decora)

Habitat: Wooded areas, and open areas near woodlands.

Comments: The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is a very common and conspicuous butterfly of northern Wisconsin. It is replaced in the south by its close relative, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Adult Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Profile
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Caterpillar Anatomy: A Tutorial

Caterpillars come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some caterpillars are quite hairy, while others are smooth. Despite differences between species, though, all caterpillars share certain morphological features.

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Caterpillar Quiz

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.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus
How Caterpillars Change Into Butterflies

How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult bitterfly.

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