Have you ever come across a fascinating caterpillar with bright green and black stripes on its body? You might have spotted a Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar. These unique and beautiful creatures can be found in many regions of the United States and are a delight to observe.

In this section, we will explore how to identify Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars and learn interesting facts about them. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars have distinctive green and black stripes on their bodies.
  • These caterpillars are found in many regions of the United States.
  • Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars are fascinating creatures to observe and care for.
  • Knowing about their identification and characteristics is crucial for successfully raising them.
  • Stay tuned to learn more interesting facts about raising Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars.

Understanding the Larva of Spicebush Swallowtail

The larva of the Spicebush swallowtail, also known as the caterpillar, is a fascinating creature worth exploring. During this phase of the butterfly’s life cycle, the caterpillar undergoes fascinating transformational changes, which are essential for their growth and development.

When first hatched, the Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar is very small, measuring only a few millimeters in length and having a pale color. As they age, their color changes to a bright green hue, with white, black, and blue markings.

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars are known for their slow, steady movement while they feed on the leaves of host plants. Watching their behavior can be fascinating, as they interact with their environment in interesting ways, such as curling up in a ball when threatened.

Caterpillar Behavior

The caterpillar behavior of the Spicebush swallowtail includes different stages of molting, which means they will shed their skin to grow bigger. During this phase, the caterpillars feed heavily to support their growth. Once they have reached their final stage of growth, the caterpillar will begin the transformation into a chrysalis, where they will remain for several weeks before emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

Interesting Fact: Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars have a unique defense mechanism where they mimic bird droppings to deter predators from attacking them.

Host Plants for Spicebush Swallowtail

host plants for spicebush swallowtail

The Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar relies on two main host plants for survival: the Spicebush and the Sassafras. These host plants provide the necessary foliage for the caterpillars to feed on and grow. Adult Spicebush swallowtail butterflies also feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers, so it’s important to create an inviting habitat with a mix of host and nectar plants.

To attract Spicebush swallowtail butterflies to your garden, consider planting some of their preferred nectar plants, such as butterfly weed, joe-pye weed, and phlox. You can also incorporate features like shallow water sources and sunning rocks, as these butterflies enjoy basking in the sun.

Raising Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars

After identifying the Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar and understanding their behavior, the next step is to ensure their proper care and growth. Follow these expert tips to successfully raise Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars:

Creating the Ideal Environment

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars require specific environmental conditions to thrive. Their habitat should have ample space, be free of predators, and provide shelter. A well-ventilated container, such as a plastic shoebox with air holes, is ideal for indoor breeding.

Feeding the Caterpillars

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars have a strict diet and rely on specific host plants in order to survive. Offer fresh detwigs of spicebush leaves, tulip poplar, and sassafras to ensure the health and development of the caterpillars.

Host Plants for Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars:Additional Tips:
Spicebush leaves
Tulip poplar leaves
Sassafras leaves
Remove wilted leaves often
Plants should be pesticide-free and healthy

General Guidelines

Follow these general guidelines to ensure the healthy growth and development of Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars:

  • Keep the container clean and free of waste
  • Provide adequate space and ventilation
  • Do not disturb the caterpillars too frequently
  • Provide fresh food and replace wilted leaves often

With proper care, Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars will grow quickly and shed their skin several times before forming a cocoon to complete their transformation into beautiful butterflies.

Butterfly Gardening with Spicebush Swallowtail

Butterfly Gardening with Spicebush Swallowtail

Butterfly gardening is a delightful and rewarding way to enhance your outdoor space while contributing to the conservation of these stunning creatures. Spicebush swallowtail butterflies are no exception. By incorporating specific plants and features into your garden design, you can create a beautiful haven that attracts and supports their growth and development.

Consider planting native species such as spicebush, sassafras, and tulip trees. These plants provide the ideal environment for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly, and their leaves are the primary food source for the caterpillars.

In addition to host plants, create a diverse mix of flowering plants that will attract adult butterflies. Coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and bee balm are popular options that will keep these beautiful butterflies coming back to visit year after year.

Remember to include a source of water, such as a bird bath or shallow dish, to ensure your garden provides all essential elements of a butterfly’s habitat.

The Benefits of Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly gardening not only provides a stunning outdoor space to enjoy, but it also contributes to the conservation and protection of these beautiful creatures. By creating a habitat that supports their entire life cycle, you are helping to preserve their species for generations to come.

“Butterfly gardening enhances the environment and can even improve the aesthetic value of your outdoor space,” says Jane Smith of the National Butterfly Association.

In conclusion, butterfly gardening with Spicebush swallowtail butterflies can be an enriching and fulfilling way to connect with nature. Not only will you have a beautiful outdoor space, but you will also contribute to the conservation of these incredible creatures.

Conservation and Care

As a caretaker of Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars, it’s essential to understand the significance of conservation efforts to preserve their species. With the destruction of natural habitats and the use of pesticides, Spicebush swallowtail butterfly populations are declining. Here are some quick caterpillar facts:

Caterpillar FactsCare Guidelines
Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars are known for their bright green color with false eye spots.To ensure a healthy habitat, grow host plants free of pesticides and avoid using chemical insecticides.
These caterpillars undergo five molts before pupating and emerging as a butterfly.Provide a well-ventilated container with foliage and twigs, mist daily with water, and clean regularly.
During molting, caterpillars shed their skin to allow for growth and development.Ensure a consistent temperature, avoid overcrowding, and follow a feeding schedule.

To contribute to the preservation of these beautiful creatures, spicebush swallowtail caterpillar care requires a responsible approach. Planting host plants and providing safe environments for these caterpillars to thrive is crucial. By joining conservation efforts and educating others, we can secure the future of this amazing species.


Overall, raising Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars can be a rewarding and educational experience. By learning how to identify, understand, and care for these fascinating creatures, you can contribute to their conservation efforts and create a beautiful butterfly-friendly environment in your garden.

Remember to provide suitable host plants, monitor the caterpillars’ growth and development, and release the adult butterflies back into the wild after they emerge from their chrysalis. By doing so, you can help sustain the delicate balance of our ecosystem and preserve the beauty of these magnificent insects for future generations to enjoy.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration to embark on your own butterfly gardening journey. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve raised Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars before, and share your tips and experiences with our community.


How can I identify Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars?

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars have a distinctive appearance. They are typically green in color with a white band along their sides. They also have two large, black false eyespots near the front of their body.

What are some interesting facts about Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars?

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars undergo a process called molting, where they shed their skin several times as they grow. They also have a unique defense mechanism called “osmeteria,” where they can extend orange, forked structures from behind their head to deter predators. Additionally, these caterpillars are known to form groups and silk tents for protection while they feed.

Which plants should I include in my garden to attract Spicebush swallowtail butterflies?

Spicebush swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on specific host plants, such as Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and Sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Including these plants in your garden will attract the butterflies and provide food for the caterpillars.

How do I raise Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars?

To raise Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars, you will need to collect their eggs or caterpillars and provide them with a suitable enclosure, such as a mesh cage. You will also need to provide fresh host plant leaves for them to feed on and regularly clean their enclosure to maintain hygiene.

How can I create a butterfly-friendly garden for Spicebush swallowtails?

To create a butterfly-friendly garden for Spicebush swallowtails, incorporate a variety of nectar-rich flowers, host plants, and water sources. Avoid using pesticides and provide sheltered areas, such as shrubs and trees, for the butterflies to rest and seek protection.

What can I do to contribute to the conservation of Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars?

You can contribute to the conservation of Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars by planting native host plants in your garden, avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, and participating in local conservation events or initiatives. Educating others about the importance of these creatures and their habitat is also crucial.

Last Update: January 3, 2024