Are you looking for a fascinating experience that allows you to witness the miracle of nature up close? If so, raising Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars might be just what you need. These beautiful butterflies are a wonder to behold, and their transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is a sight to see.

But how do you go about raising Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars, and what care tips do you need to know? In this section, we’ll explore everything you need to know about raising these delicate creatures, from their life cycle to creating a suitable habitat that supports their growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are a fascinating species to raise at home.
  • Understanding their life cycle is essential for successful care.
  • Providing a caterpillar-friendly habitat will attract these beautiful creatures to your garden.
  • Essential care tips include providing the right food and ensuring a clean and safe environment.
  • The conservation of Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies is essential for preserving their habitat and ensuring their survival.

Understanding the Life Cycle of Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies

life cycle of Spicebush swallowtail butterfly

The Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly is an extraordinary creature that undergoes significant changes throughout its life cycle. Learning about their life cycle is crucial for anyone interested in successfully raising these beautiful butterflies. It all begins with the eggs.

The female butterfly lays her pale, spherical eggs on the underside of the host plant leaves. The eggs are small, measuring less than 1/16 inch in diameter. They are creamy white with a brownish-black cap. The eggs take six to nine days to hatch, and tiny caterpillars emerge from them.

The early-stage caterpillars are black with white spots and small bristles. They eat their eggshells after hatching and then start consuming the host plant leaves. As they grow larger, they turn green with a black head. They have a swollen thorax and eyespots on their thorax segments that make them resemble snakes. The caterpillars molt up to five times before reaching maturity.

Identifying these early-stage caterpillars is essential for anyone interested in raising Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies.

After the last molt, the caterpillar enters the pupal stage, during which it transforms into a chrysalis. The chrysalis hangs upside down from a stem or leaf. Its color is initially bright green and changes to brownish as it matures. In about two weeks, the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.

The adult Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly has a wingspan of about 3 to 4 inches. It has striking black, blue, and green wings with light blue spots. The female butterflies are darker in color compared to the males.

“Watching the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies is a magical experience that connects us with nature in a unique way.”

Creating a Caterpillar-friendly Habitat

Attracting Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies

Attracting Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies to your garden is easier than you think. By creating a caterpillar-friendly habitat, you can provide a safe and nurturing environment for these beautiful butterflies to thrive.

The natural habitat of caterpillars is woodland areas, so aim to recreate this environment in your garden. Create shaded spots by planting trees and shrubs and adding a water source, like a bird bath or water fountain. Water sources not only provide hydration for adult butterflies but help maintain humidity levels essential for the growth and survival of caterpillars.

Host plants for Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars include Spicebush, Sassafras, and Tulip trees, among others. These plants provide essential nutrients and are the only plants that caterpillars can feed on.

Host Plants for Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars

Common NameScientific Name
SpicebushLindera benzoin
SassafrasSassafras albidum
Tulip treeLiriodendron tulipifera
Red bayPersea borbonia

By planting these host plants in your garden, you can attract Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies to lay their eggs and raise caterpillars. Make sure to plant enough host plants to ensure there is an adequate food supply for the caterpillars.

Creating a caterpillar-friendly habitat is not only beneficial for the growth and survival of Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies, but helps promote a healthy ecosystem in your garden.

Take note that caterpillars need a clean and safe environment to grow. Avoid using pesticides in your garden and ensure that the caterpillars’ space is free from debris and contaminants that may harm them. Cleaning the caterpillar’s habitat regularly and providing fresh host plants will ensure that the caterpillars are healthy and safe.

With these simple tips, you can create a caterpillar-friendly habitat and attract these beautiful butterflies to your garden.

Caring for Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars

Raising Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars can be a delicate process, but with proper care, you can watch them transform into stunning butterflies right in your own home.

Providing the Right Food

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars require a specific diet to grow and develop into healthy butterflies. Their primary food source is the leaves of the spicebush or sassafras tree. These trees are common in the eastern part of the United States, but you can also purchase caterpillar food online or from a local nursery.

Ensuring a Clean and Safe Environment

Cleanliness is crucial when caring for caterpillars. Regularly check their container for any signs of mold, which can be a significant risk for their health. Additionally, hand washing or using gloves before handling the caterpillars can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Make sure to provide ample space for them to move around and remove any frass (caterpillar waste) daily.

Preventing Pests

Protect your caterpillars from predators such as wasps and birds by covering their container with a mesh cloth. Make sure the openings are small enough so that harmful insects cannot enter and harm your caterpillars.

Preparing for Pupation

When the caterpillars are ready to pupate, they will begin to search for a safe location. Prepare a suitable container with paper towels or branches for them to attach to during the pupation process. Once they have fully pupated, you can transfer the chrysalises into a separate container for them to emerge safely as butterflies.

The Conservation of Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies

The Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly is a crucial player in the ecosystem, pollinating plants and serving as a food source for other animals. However, their population has been declining due to habitat loss, pesticides, and other environmental factors. Therefore, it is vital to take action to conserve these beautiful creatures and their natural habitat.

To support the conservation of Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies, consider creating a butterfly garden in your backyard. By planting native species that serve as host plants for the caterpillars, you can provide a safe and suitable habitat for these butterflies to thrive.

Another important way to help is by reducing your use of pesticides and herbicides, which are harmful to the population of these butterflies and other beneficial insects. Instead, opt for natural pest control methods, such as hand-picking pests or using companion planting techniques.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly Conservation Organizations

There are also several organizations dedicated to the conservation of Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies and other wildlife. Consider supporting one of these organizations through volunteering, donating, or spreading awareness:

Butterfly Conservation InitiativeProtecting endangered butterfly species by conserving their habitats and raising awareness.
The Xerces SocietyDedicated to protecting invertebrates and their habitats through conservation, education, and advocacy.
The Nature ConservancyWorks to conserve lands and waters around the world to protect biodiversity and support sustainable communities.

Conserving Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies is essential for maintaining a healthy ecosystem and preserving the beauty of these stunning creatures. By taking action and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure the survival of these butterflies for future generations to come.


Raising Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars is a fascinating and rewarding experience. By following the essential care tips and understanding their life cycle, you can witness the magical transformation of these butterflies. Creating a caterpillar-friendly habitat not only attracts these beautiful creatures to your garden but also supports their growth.

As we come to the end of this article, it’s important to remember the significance of conserving the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly and their natural habitat. We can all contribute to their preservation, and by raising Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars, we play a vital role in their conservation efforts.

Embrace the beauty of nature and enjoy the joy of watching these stunning butterflies emerge from their cocoons. Whether you’re a seasoned butterfly enthusiast or new to the world of caterpillar care, raising Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars is sure to be an experience you won’t forget.


How do I identify Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars?

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars are green with black bands and orange spots. They also have a pair of retractable horns behind their head. Look for these distinctive features to identify them.

What do Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars eat?

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars feed on the leaves of spicebush and sassafras plants. These plants serve as their host plants, providing the nourishment they need for their growth and development.

How can I attract Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies to my garden?

To attract Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies, plant spicebush and sassafras plants in your garden. Create a habitat that offers nectar-rich flowers and ample sunlight. Providing a shallow water source can also be enticing to these beautiful butterflies.

How do I care for Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars at home?

Care for Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars by providing fresh leaves of spicebush and sassafras plants daily. Ensure a clean environment by regularly removing waste and maintaining proper humidity levels. Avoid using pesticides in the vicinity of the caterpillars.

Why is it important to conserve Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies?

Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies play a crucial role in pollination and contribute to the biodiversity of ecosystems. Conserving their natural habitat helps maintain the delicate balance of our environment and supports the survival of these stunning creatures.

Last Update: January 3, 2024