What Is It?

By MDC | July 1, 2024
From Xplor: July/August 2024
  • My appearance is quite a surprise.
  • I look like scat that fell from the skies.
  • As I grow, I change my disguise.
  • I get spots that look like snake eyes.

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars are masters of disguise. Baby caterpillars look like bird droppings. This keeps predators from eating them. During the day, they hide in tents made of leaves. At night, they munch on spicebush and sassafras. As they grow, they turn green and develop large spots on their bodies that look like the eyes of a snake. After forming a chrysalis, the bug-eyed caterpillars emerge as beautiful butterflies.

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This Issue's Staff

Artist – Matt Byrde
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Marcia Hale
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber