Mascot Caterpillar


Last year, Kate started using anise swallowtail butterflies as part of the biology unit in her second-grade class. As the name might suggest, the anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) are partial to anise (fennel) plants and their relatives; in some areas, the go for citrus, too. Our neighbor has a healthy stand of fennel in one corner of his yard, and the last two springs the plants have hosted anise swallowtail eggs and larvae (caterpillars). The one pictured here is apparently in its fifth and final “instar” (larval stage) before becoming a pupa (or, as I’ve always thought of it, “going into its chrysalis”). It’s an amazing little street-side biology lab we have here. (Oh, yeah: And you get a dollar if you can tell me what that little brown spheroid at the caterpillar’s posterior end is.)

Further reading:

UC Irvine Butterflies of Orange County: Anise Swallowtail
Berkeley’s Anise Swallowtails
Butterflies and Moths of North America: Anise Swallowtail
Wikipedia: Anise Swallowtail
Wikipedia: Butterflies

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