Papilio machaon larva (14)
|Papilio machaon Linnaeus 1758|
Common name: Swallowtail
Papilio machaon is widespread and common in Crete as in many countries of the world. It lays eggs on tall plants. The young caterpillar is black, marked with a band of white. I posted an image of 1rst instar larva in WS. It looks remarkably like a small bird-dropping as it rests openly on the leaves. This camouflage is not effective against spiders, which may predate up to 65% of 1st instar larvae. When fully grown in July, the caterpillar is a most magnificent creature - bright green, marked with narrow black bands and orange spots (see image). Behind it's head is an eversible fleshy pink forked structure called an osmaterium, which is raised if the larva is irritated. This structure emits pungent chemicals, capable of deterring ants, wasps, and flies, but does not deter birds - reed buntings, sedge warblers and bearded tits between them devouring at least 50% of mature larvae.