Orange dogs were here a couple of weeks ago. A true beauty and the beast.
Bummer. This is one of those difficult situations. Do you leave it and let it eat away at the leaves so it can become a beautiful Swallowtail butterfly, or, well, do you dispatch with it? I saw my first Swallowtail butterfly in my yard yesterday, we don't normally seem to have them here where I live. Mainly Monarchs (which defoliate my Asclepias, but that's what I plant Asclepias for), and the Gulf Frittilary (which defoliate my passaflora, but again, I plant several varieties, so we can "share", lol!) But, I think I might draw the line on my citrus. Haven't found one of these, yet, but no doubt they're in my yard, too.
I had no idea that's what they were. I found 2 on one citrus plant a few months ago ( several over the past few years). Is it possible to just put them on some less important plant or do they love only citrus?
You can try, Tim. I would Google Swallowtail butterfly, and see what other host plants they like that are other than your citrus.
These spectacular butterflies (largest in NA) will only use certain plants in the Rutaceae family. This includes all citrus as well as such plants as prickly ash, Hercules club, hop tree, and others.
I grow seedling citrus expressly to enjoy the life cycle so I can speak with experience when I say that even one of these interesting caterpillars can do some damage to a SMALL tree. It's a big guy.....they eat a lot.
I can also tell you that they have many natural enemies....birds, wasps (who will actively seek and hunt for caterpillars amongst the foliage), assassin bugs, mantids, and more.
Have you 'petted ' that caterpillar, yet? You've got to do that!
I leave them alone Patty. They don't seem to eat much. As Rhizo posted, i think the birds get most of them. They are also called bird poot butterflies since they look like bird droppings.
Attached is a little YouTube video of what happens when you 'pet' an orangedog caterpillar.
Here is a link that might be useful: Clickee