Today we sighted a Giant Swallowtail caterpillar resting on the leaf of a young lemon tree in one of our flowerpots. Anyone passing by would not readily recognize it, as it is camouflaged – resembling bird’s droppings. The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio cresphontes) feeds on garden flowers, and the citrus tree is one of its larval food plants. I read that citrus fruit farmers often call this specie of caterpillars . . . “orange dogs” or “orange puppies” because of the devastation they can cause to their crop of oranges.
Here are a few more photos:
I read that when provoked, the Giant Swallowtail caterpillar will emits a disgusting, nose-wrinkling, ammonia-like odor to deter birds from eating it. The caterpillar will also raise itself and evert an orange, horn-like, V-shaped osmeterium (scent organ) located on its head.
This caterpillar did rise, but it didn’t show me its osmeterium which is also described as resembling the forked tongue of a snake.
Check out this site – http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/citrus/giantswallowtail.htm for more information.