Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Lifecycle; Heraclides cresphontes

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Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Papilio cresphontes
The larvae of this butterfly is known as the 'Orange Dog'. Citrus plants are the host for this butterfly. Rue is also used by Gaint Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars as a host or larval food plant. Many people see these caterpillars (often mistakenly calling one a 'worm') on their orange or citrus trees and have no idea that they are immature butterflies.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, black and yellow swallowtail butterfly
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, black and yellow swallowtail butterfly
Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Side view of the Giant Swallowtail
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, black and yellow swallowtail butterfly laying an egg on wild lime
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg
Giant Swallowtail laying an egg
on Wild Lime Zanthoxylum fagara
An egg on Hercule's Club
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg about to hatch
A Giant Swallowtail egg.
An egg ready to hatch. Note the head of the
caterpillar showing through the shell.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, hatched caterpillar larva eating its egg shell
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, young early instar caterpillar larva
A hatchling caterpillar has been
eating its eggshell.
A young caterpillar.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, caterpillar larva molted
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, caterpillar larva eats wild lime leaves and is known as an orange dog
A caterpillar has just molted. It's old skin
is directly behind the caterpillar.
A Giant Swallowtail caterpillar eats Wild Lime.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, caterpillar on citrus tree is known as an orange dog
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, is known as an orange dog and extends its osmeterium
The actual head of the caterpillar is seen best
when photographed directly from the front.
A caterpillar extends its osmeterium, a forked gland
which it extends when disturbed.
The osmeterium exudes a fluid
which is considered to smell horrible.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, is known as an orange dog and extends its osmeterium
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, prepares to pupate into a pupa or chrysalis
The color of the osmeterium of each swallowtail
species is different.
Giant Swallowtail osmeterium is bright orange-red.
A Giant Swallowtail attaches itself in
a crescent shape to prepare for pupation.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, holds on with a silk girdle or sling
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, pupated into a chrysalis or pupa
Along with the normal silk pad a caterpillar uses
to attach its back prolegs,
note the silk 'girdle' or 'sling' the caterpillar makes and uses to hold itself in place.
To become a chrysalis, it simply wiggles
out of its skin. This time the skin
did not fall free but remained attached
at the rear of the chrysalis.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, pupa or chrysalis looks like a piece of wood
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, pupa or chrysalis looks like a piece of wood
This simply looks like
the broken tip of two branches.
When the full photo is shown, the method
of camoflauge is clear. A Giant Swallowtail
chrysalis looks like a broken branch.
Note the spiracles on the side of the chrysalis.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, pupa or chrysalis female
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, pupa or chrysalis male
A Giant Swallowtail female pupa (chrysalis) is indicated by the line between the two red arrows in the enlarged photo (click on photo).
A Giant Swallowtail male pupa (chrysalis) is indicated by the dot at the tip of the red arrow in the enlarged photo (click on photo).
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg with tricogramma wasps inside
Trichogramma Wasps emerge from a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg
While photographing eggs through the microscope,
this egg appeared dark all over.
It should have been dark only where the caterpillar head would show.
As I continued to photograph the egg, I noticed
little 'bugs' crawling out of the egg.
Trichogramma Wasps emerge from a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg
Trichogramma Wasp pupae inside a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, egg
Flipping the leaf to photograph the bugs
crawling out of the egg, I dented the top of the egg.
Using a razor blade, I cut one egg which was
dark all over and found these
immature Trichogramma Wasps developing.
The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Papilio cresphontes is one of the largest butterflies in the United States.