black swallowtail caterpillar

Yesterday, while out for my afternoon insect walk, I came across a Black Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) feeding on Queen Anne’s Lace flowers. This summer, we’ve seen more Black Swallowtail butterflies than in all previous years combined. Once again, I’m sure this must come down to excellent growing conditions for caterpillar food plants and perhaps ideal weather conditions for survival of the butterflies.

Unlike the Monarch caterpillars that look pretty much alike from hatching through to pupating, the Black Swallowtail cats differ greatly at each instar stage. The image below is of a third instar caterpillar photographed in my garden a couple of summers ago. The one above, would be a fifth and final instar.

Well, the weekend is almost here and we’ll probably be off canoeing or hiking as the weather is supposed to be excellent. I’m not sure if I’ll be around much over the next couple of days, but will post if I encounter anything of interest. However, speaking of good weather, I hope everyone has clear skies for the next couple of nights. As Wayne reminds us at Niches, the Perseids should be visible this weekend. Check out his post for more viewing tips.

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