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Caterpillar - Papilio polyxenes

Caterpillar - Papilio polyxenes
Salisbury, Wicomico County, Maryland, USA
September 5, 2010
My parsley (what's left of it!) is now being consumed by a pack of these bugs. Very small, but scary-looking! What do they turn into?


Moved from ID Request.

It will be much easier to get it identified now
I cropped the image in order to show more of the caterpillar and less background. Only you and the editors can click on your images a get the full size image that you posted. All other viewers see the images reduced to 560 pixel on the longest side.

Thank you. Now it looks even
Thank you. Now it looks even scarier!

Looks similar to which is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar. If it would survive, it would turn into a very beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar goes through quite a few changes in appearance as it grows. See guide. I see that you have also posted older versions of these caterpillars recently.

WOW...this is the same bug as
WOW...this is the same bug as the big green ones I posted before? I'll say it goes through some changes! Thanks, I never would have figured that one out!

Those two orange "horns"
The one in your photo is making a nice show of its osmeterium. That's a defensive organ that comes out and emits a bad-smelling chemical to deter whatever is disturbing the caterpillar from eating it. It doesn't always work. I've seen wasps eating caterpillars of the anise swallowtail, which is the corresponding species here in the West. The raw material for the chemical exists in the parsley or other host plant.

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