My friend Lori invited me to come to her native plant greenhouse, Tennessee Naturescapes, today to see some interesting butterfly and moth caterpillars. I had been wanting to get a photo of a Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar for a long time. They are funny-looking little critters, they have large false eyes that make them look a bit like a reptile! These big black and yellow "eyes" are actually on its thorax, the true eyes are on its head which is tucked below. These are comical-looking caterpillars with their blue dots and fake eyes. As their name implies, they feed on Spicebush leaves.
Another, not so cute, caterpillar was feeding on leaves of a sumac bush. Lori said she had a run-in with one of these yesterday, it stung her when she accidently brushed against it, the pain lasted for over an hour. Saddleback caterpillars come with quite an arsenal of venom-filled spines. When I enlarged this photo (right) to sharpen it, I could see tiny drops of venom on the spines.
The moths that these caterpillars become are dark and evil-looking too!