What is this EVIL caterpillar eating my navel orange?

billviveretteMay 14, 2010

We found several of these on our navel orange. It appears they had eaten 6-8 leaves overnight. What are they?


Bill and Ann

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

That's the caterpillar of the gorgeous Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. I'll bet that you've seen them flitting around your yard. The caterpillar is often called an 'orange dog' for some reason.

Look for the single, pearl-like eggs on the upper surface of the leaves and remove them. They aren't hard to spot once you know what to look for.

And those caterpillars don't start out that large. Check your plant out regularly for the new-borns.

Me? I grow seedling citrus FOR the butterflies to lay their eggs on, lol!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 11:56AM
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Gorgeous, indeed! Sacrificial seedlings may just be in order.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 1:21PM
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OK, we put the 6 caterpillars back onto the orange tree.

Poor baby tree, barely made it through the Big Freeze and just coming back from the base when these critters found it. It has lost about half its leaves to them. It only has 3 stems each about 8 inches long. At least it is now in the ground and has good roots to drive new growth.

On the bright side, two of the caterpillars have repositioned themselves on the trunk and appear to be full grown so maybe they are ready to begin the conversion to butterflies.

There are 3 that are smaller and they still have a lot of eating to do.

Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 5:38PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sometimes, the caterpillars will wander off a short distance to pupate. For example, I often find the chrysalises attached to the siding of our home!

Just so you know, these caterpillars are not without their natural enemies. Though birds and frogs or toads don't usually bother them because of their excellent camouflage (who wants to eat a big, yukky bird dropping?), wasps will gather them up. I've also seen birds go after the chrysalises!

But I've seem many a butterfly emerge, too.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 8:14AM
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I found these all over my satsuma tree last year and removed them ASAP. Now I'm pretty sad I did that. Thanks for identifying this caterpillar. What a gorgeous butterfly. I have monarch caterpillars chomping down on my milkweed plant right now and have to remind my significant other not to remove them!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 9:05PM
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There is some great information here!Since I am new to gardening!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 5:09PM
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