Friday, September 17, 2010

Strange new catterpillars - could they be ulysses butterflies?

Coming home from work yesterday I noticed that something had been nibbling on my new lime tree!  Well, this is not good, as it is just a very small lime - but what to do!  Very interesting looking catterpillars, and there were two of them.  I picked  a few branches of my neighbours kaffir lime tree and put them into a vase.  Then carefully transferred the catterpillars to their new home.
Another one was moved...  You can clearly see the shape of the kaffir lime - like two leaves stuck together.

They seem to like their new home and settled right in for a meal, funnily enough there were some of the same catterpillar on my neighbours tree, so at least I know that this is  also a plant they would have chosen.
 She thinks it is a ulysses butterfly - how lovely!
 Funnily enough I have another plant in the back that was specially chosen as a ulysses catterpillar host,  but figured these might have a preference for the citrus flavour!  The ulysses butterflies are difficult to catch on film as you can only see their iridescent blue wings when they are flitting around. (very fast!)

When I stepped back I found yet another catterpillar, .... a different type!

so I have  a little catterpillar city outside my front door.  It will be very interesting to see what happens next and hopefully I will be able to follow the life cycle with photos - stay tuned!

A while back I was fascinated to see the wonderful post written on the Flower Hills Farm blog - to see that  follow this link - monarch-marveler-momentous-migration   Gosh I hope I can capture some photos half as good as hers....


  1. Funny, I just did a post on butterflies! Those gorgeous green caterpillars look a lot like tomato hornworms, or tobacco hornworms--they preyed on my tomatoes one year. if so, be careful--they are destructive!!

  2. thanks for cour comment Liz - loved your post! Butterflies seem to be the theme of the day!

  3. I knew I'd seen them before and got curious, so looked up your caterpillar. It's a swallowtail. (the one with the red spots on their hind wings) They start off brown and white and turn green as they grow and love citrus.

  4. Hi Missy,
    The ulysses butterfly is part of the swallowtail family, so that would make sense. It does look like all the photos I see searching for the ulysses butterfly catterpillar. I see that chequered swallowtail, which I think is what you mean, but have never seen those in my garden. we do have tons of ulysses. I am not sure how long this whole process takes, but I watch them every day....


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