black caterpillar with white band (Black swallowtail caterpillar )

by Mayo
(Sebring FL)

about 1" long, black with small 'spikes', orange dots and a white band around its middle. It was found as it happily stripped a parsley plant growing in a container in December in southern Florida. I think one of its friends was also eating a young pepper plant but I didn't see it or catch it. I only saw the results. Thanks, Moni!

Comments for black caterpillar with white band (Black swallowtail caterpillar )

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Black swallowtail caterpillar
by: Moni

Hi Mayo!
Your caterpillar is the black swallowtail. They love parsley and all related plants. This caterpillar feeds primarily on plants of the carrot family and some in the Rue Family. It is usually found on dill, parsley, fennel, carrot, lovage, and rue in gardens, and queen-anne's-lace and poison hemlock in the wild.

Birds do not bother this caterpillar because it will stick out smelly orange "horns" to prevent predators or us from picking them up. It is possible for caterpillars to be parasitized by flies and wasps.

The larvae change color quite dramatically with each molt. Yours is probably a 3rd stage (instar) because it is still black with a white band around it's middle. The last stage ( 5th instar) is green with black bands dotted with orange or yellow spots on each segment. The pupa has two forms - brown and green.
It overwinters as a pupa/chrysalis in northern states.

The adult butterfly is black with yellow spots for the male and yellow with blue spots for the female. They are a common garden butterfly.

They are found from Rocky Mts eastward in North America, also southwestern United States, and south to northern South America.

This insect does not bite.

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