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Spitting Caterpillars! What next?
So why does a caterpillar spit green liquid? What is this green regurgiated fluid?



Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) caterpillar face

Tawny Emperor
Asterocampa clyton
caterpillar clean face

Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) caterpillar face with green spit / regurgitated fluid that is meant to startle predators.


Butterfly Caterpillar
with green spit
on its face

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) butterfly caterpillar spits green regurgitated fluid in an assumed attempt to startle predators.

Long-tailed Skipper
Urbanus proteus
butterfly caterpillar
with regurgitated fluid


When annoyed by a predator (or other critter like a nosy human) some species of caterpillars 'spit'. Quoting a well-known local Lepidopterist, "this green regurgitated fluid is from the gut and is supposed to be purely a defensive action (startling a predator)".

While raising butterfly and moth larvae, you may notice that many species will leave this green 'spit' on your fingers. Tawny Emperor, Hackberry, Long-tailed Skippers, Dorantes Skippers, and many other butterfly and moth species have this instinct. You can almost hear them say, "I have spit and I know how to use it" or "If you bother me I'll throw up on you". Actually, it isn't really spit but is regurtated fluid from it's digestive system.

This butterfly farmer will be conducting research projects about the reaction of predators to this fluid. Watch this space for more information about the tests as we post results for the next newsletter.