spicebush swallowtail caterpillar

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This odd looking caterpillar was found. This is a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar in one of it’s later morphs. The orange-ish horn that pokes out in the gif releases a pretty awful smell and the color/smell combination is used to scare predators away.

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Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio troilus), in the Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Chesapeake, Virginia.

This caterpillar is a convincing miniature mimic of this swamp creature. When disturbed the caterpillar extends a forked organ called an osmeterium from its mouth parts, to further the snaky illusion. It also releases a foul odor to deter predators. You can see video of this behavior by clicking here, including sounds of the choking cough of the filmmaker when the scent is deployed. 

My photo of an adult spicebush swallowtail butterfly can be viewed here. And you can click any photo in this set for enlarged views. 

Watch on bugbrained.tumblr.com

Osmeterium (Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar)

azzriell  asked:

Hi ! :) I would like to know how a unique Pokemon, like Wurmple, could evolve into two totally different Pokemon ? Happy New Year ^^

Good question! There really isn’t any examples like this in our world, of one organism growing up into different species entirely. Especially since moths (Dustox) and butterflies (beautifly) are so different in themselves.

Instead, I like to think that there are actually two different kinds of wurmple. Two entirely unique species, but just look so similar it’s difficult to tell them apart until the evolve. Look at these examples: the Monarch and Eastern Swallowtail have similar caterpillar stages, but look very different grown up. Same with the Palamedes and the Spicebush Swallowtail!

Even though the caterpillars look the same, they’re really two different species. In fact, some of the caterpillars use their look-alikes to their advantage. If one caterpillar species is poisonous, for example, predators will learn not to eat the other caterpillar just because it looks like the poisonous one!

That’s what I think the situation is with Wurmple. Dustox is foul and poisonous: Beautifly larvae, over time, evolved to mimic the appearance and behavior of Dustox caterpillars, and even into the cocoon stage, so they too would be viewed as undesirable and poisonous to predators.

Thanks for your question, and Happy New Year to you too!

-Professor Julie