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Papilio machaon - caterpillar

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 26 July 2010 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

Papilio machaon (The Old World Swallowtail / Koninginnenpage) is a butterfly of the family Papilionidae. Together with Iphiclides podalirius (Scarce Swallowtail / Koningspage) they are the only members of that family to be seen in Belgium. Favoured food plants are all members of the Apiaceae-family so if you want to find the beautiful colored caterpillar, you have to search for these plants. The caterpillar spends the first part of its life with the appearance of a bird dropping, an effective defense against predators. As the caterpillar grows larger it becomes green with black and orange markings. The caterpillar still has a defense against predators in the form of an organ called an osmeterium which consists of retractable, fleshy projections behind its head that can release a foul smell if disturbed.
Who can tell the direction in wich the caterpillar is going? To the left or to the right ? (Find the head and you'll know ...)

Image: Lille (BE) - 21/07/2010

Canon EOS 400D 1/200 second F/8.0 ISO 200 150 mm

© Johan Dierckx

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All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.

(To see species in the same taxonomic rank (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus), please use the tags provided with the image. The last tag is the Iso-code for the country where the image was taken. Image-date in DD/MM/YYYY format.)

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♏arleen from Netherlands

Dat was een strikvraag Johan...je hebt natuurlijk gefocust op de oogjes;-)))
Erg mooie plaat en ik ga weer eens speuren op de schermbloemigen in onze tuin, wie weet zie ik een vogelpoepje......(nuttige info:-)

26 Jul 2010 12:55pm

@♏arleen: Héhé, je kent me ondertussen... maar je hebt overschot van gelijk natuurlijk ....
Veel geluk met je zoektocht ! (En uiteraard verwacht ik een foto na een vondst ...)

Céline from New York City, United States

Beautiful catch !

26 Jul 2010 5:30pm

@Céline: Thank you very much, Céline.

`Paul from Minneapolis, United States

the focal plane is awesome here.. nice work.

26 Jul 2010 6:02pm

@`Paul: Thanks, Paul. I'm glad you like this image.

marc battault from clermont ferrand, France

magnifique chenille qui deviendra un superbe papillon qui est mon préféré !!! la composition est superbe !
5 etoiles !
amitiés !!

26 Jul 2010 11:05pm

@marc battault: I agree, Marc. This caterpillar and papillon is one of the most impressive. Thanks again for your apreciation.

Julie Brown from Indianapolis, United States

Nice shot of the caterpillar and the host plant. It looks similar to the black swallowtail caterpillars I now have on my carrot plants (Apiaceae-family) in my garden.

28 Jul 2010 2:48am

@Julie Brown: So it fits. I think it's perfectly normal the caterpillars of these closely related species are very similar, as are the host-plants. It must be lovely to have those in your garden - hope you can get good images of them too. I always have to travel some distances to look for those ... (but I'm happy to do so).

daniela scharnowski from Berlin, Germany

I like the backdrop here a lot, also the "dof"ed view ont he caterpillar is pleasant - only the very parallel position of the caterpillar bothers me, I know, I can´t have it all ;D

31 Jul 2010 10:02am

@daniela scharnowski: no you can't :p

Canon EOS 400D
1/200 second
ISO 200
150 mm