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Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars!



They are glorious monsters. They are ravenous. They are chewing through my Woolly Dutchman’s Pipe at a truly shocking rate. If you stand beside the vine, you hear this steady feeding sound, which is both cool and deeply, deeply creepy.

Check them out!
[(Warning: Large Close-up of Horrifying Mouthparts)]


I re-located a couple to another pipevine a few yards away which hadn’t gotten colonized, to try and spread the carnage out a bit. This is the first year that I’ve ever had them, despite planting pipevine for at least five years and they are magnificent and I am extremely honored.

(Truth is, I'd almost given up. Now I have to plant more next spring!)

*looks up their adult form*

!!!

Plant more pipevine!

Seconded and thirded and send some in the mail to us pls!

Nifty! It gives me hope that eventually I will get monarchs on my milkweed. It also made me look up what Western Tiger Swallowtails eat and was mildly disappointed it was nothing I could plant in my yard, all trees.

I was going to suggest planting parsley, then I remembered this was for the Black Swallowtail, not Tiger.

Their mouths are cool! Kinda gross, but cool!

The being able to hear the feeding part reminds me of the caterpillar scene in Nurk.

Where's the chicken? ;)

Someone just caught that on Tumblr, too! Reuploaded with chicken in proper place!

You garden reminds me of a computer game. One where you plant things to get bugs to get birds to get cats....

Sounds like Viva Pinata. :)

Pipevine swallowtail cats, so much awesome! I found one many years ago, and having been hoping to come across some more ever since :D

They are really monstery as children and beautiful as adults I can see why you would want them in spite of their noisy eating.

I wonder if it sounds like turtles eating. They make a slow, steady, almost relaxed chomping sound as they eat red peppers.

Congrats!!! They look like rather stylish assassins. And oh, that sound! When I was a kid in NW Florida, we had what I called the Caterpillar Tree in our backyard. I think it's actually called a Quitaba (sp?) tree but I'm not sure-- it had huge heart-shaped leaves and clusters of odd white flowers with thin purple stripes and yellow throats and eventually got just COVERED in large squishy white caterpillars about 2"long that had yellow and white markings. No clue what they really were-- we used them for fishbait-- but you could stand by the tree and hear them happily chewing a yard away.

Catalpa (or Catawba). They have long bean-like seed pods.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalpa

The caterpillars are from the Catalpa Sphinx Moth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratomia_catalpae

The larvae are indeed highly prized by fishermen as bait.

Edited at 2015-08-22 01:00 pm (UTC)

Ditto on your question. I assumed she actually meant a terrible end for the plants rather than the caterpillars turning on each other because I did not find anything about cannibalism in swallowtails searching on the internet (yet). I did, however, find reports of monarch butterflies resorting to it if conditions are crowded and the milkweed is running out.

The horrifying part there is the pipevine, which is loaded with a nasty carcinogen, aristolochic acid.

This brings back memories from Nurk. All you need is salmon in your trees and you're all set for the creepiest garden ever!
(I assume you already own every shade of purple nailpolish in the hopes of one of them being Gorgeous Grape).

Tangentially related: I'm finally getting around to reading Bryony and Roses (bought it when it came out, of course) and I'm LOVING it!

Thank you so much for your words. You arrange them is such wonderful ways. :)

The giant caterpillars munching in Nurk still creeps me out.

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