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
© Johan Dierckx
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