If you love butterflies, then you have to love caterpillars! and this cool cat is hanging out on the leaf of a Sassafras tree! (it really looks like this when young — we didn’t do any digital enhancements, really — it’s just one cool cat!)
It’s hanging out there because the Sassafras tree is one of the host plants for this butterfly and the caterpillar is feasting on a few leaves as it grows up and gets ready for butterfly-hood.
Do you know what this caterpillar will turn into?
Here’s a hint…..it’s one of our Swallowtail butterflies and we see them quite a bit around Loudoun. It’s not a Sassafras Swallowtail (that’s not a butterfly although it would have been a good guess considering how the common names are often created) 🙂
It’s a Spicebush Swallowtail! Yes, in addition to using Sassafras a a host plant, this butterfly also uses the Spicebush, and it was named for that. Click here to see the Spicebush Swallowtail as an adult. As this little buddy in the photo above matures, it will change its looks. We’ll try to upload additional photos to the album as it goes through the different instars.
Learn more about our local butterflies and how to id them at our upcoming class: Butterflies of Loudoun, Class and Field Trip on July 16th. Free program. Sign up here