A Very Lucky Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
How do you like my new little buddy? It is the cutest little caterpillar, an Eastern or a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail larva likely in its third or 4th instar, soon to cocoon and morph into a beautiful butterfly.
Bob and I recently made a quick stop at Lynde Shores Conservation Area in Whitby, Ontario, in Canada.
Along the main entrance trail, we rescued this Tiger Swallowtail larva off the beaten path and eventually moved it to the side of the trail.
In order to safely move the caterpillar, Bob placed a leaf in front of it on the ground and gently nudged the wee creature so that it crawled onto the leaf. In the process of moving the caterpillar to a plant at the side of the trail, the caterpillar moved onto Bob’s hand.
This is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly that we saw last summer on the Bluebird Trail in Glen Major Forest, in Uxbridge, Ontario.
And here is a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail that we had occasion to see early this summer in Durham County, Ontario. Both Tiger Swallowtails are very similar with an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail being a slightly larger butterfly. Their ranges within the province overlap slightly.
At the same time as we rescued the caterpillar from its vulnerable spot on the trail, a pair of Wild Turkeys were busily snatching up whatever they could find to eat off the ground. It is a wonder that this delightful little caterpillar was not gobbled up!
As we meandered down the trail, a young deer came out to mingle and was headed in the very direction where the caterpillar lay on the trail. It, too, posed a threat to the Tiger Swallowtail larva.
This species of Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar is designed to survive in a world with lots of predators albeit smaller threats than the turkeys or deer. It has fake “eyes” which are simply large spots that make the caterpillar look larger than it really is.
With the Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar moving about on Bob hand, we headed towards the plants along the side of the trail.
After admiring the cute little caterpillar, we encouraged it to move onto some greenery where we hoped it would be safe.
It soon dropped into the longer grass below becoming highly camouflaged within the shadows.
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