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Monday, June 28, 2010

Interesting adaptation - Citrus swallowtail Larvae

The Citrus Swallowtail is indigenous to South Africa and can be found flying around for most of the year although the pupa hibernates during the colder months.
Before citrus trees were brought here, they fed on various other plants but adapted to their new liking for citrus as there were no other insects on them.
Their systems developed a way to process the oils found in the plant.
The larvae use these oils to develop a noxious smell which is exuded in the red forked scent glands they put out when threatened by predators.
They are large butterflies but unlike most of the species, have no long tails.
Both male and female sip the nectar from various flowers for moisture and energy.

38 comments:

Firefly said...

I may be wrong, but they probably play a role in the pollenation of the citrus trees as well.

Lynda said...

I've seen these little guys around and not known what they are. Thank you!
Breath-taking photos, as always.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

They probably do Jonker but I would not swear to it. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Lynda. It is wonderful to hear from you. I am so sorry I have been so scarce but I am up to my ears in work right now. Hopefully soon I will have everything done and the website up. :)

You are most welcome. I am pleased you found this to be of interest. I have been thinking of contacting you to find out if you know some entomologist here in PTA who would give me some help on identifying some of the insects I dont know? The two people I have now are SO slow. :) If you do, you can contact me on wubadmin at tiscali dot co dot za It would be greatly appreciated.

Have a great day and week. I wish it was as warm here as it is up there by you. :)

Sreddy Yen said...

Hi Joan!! I'm back in BlogLand :) This sure is a hectic year, but it will soon be over!

Hmmm...these catepillars are actually quite pretty, but I'd never venture to TOUCH them! Yuck! :) I hope your insect-gathering adventures are not affected by the cold weather we're getting here in PTA.

Is that forked pink thing in the second photo the catepillar's tongue?

I hope you have a good week at work :)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Joan your photos never cease to amaze me, they are beautiful. Thanks for the identification, have put a note on the my post. Diane

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Joan: Certainly a colorful critter in both stages of life.

Gaelyn said...

This seems like a pretty quick adaptation. And what a gorgeous caterpillar. Absolutely love when it sticks out that forked red tongue/scent gland.

blog with no name said...

Hi Joan! Who doesn't like citrus?
I think that caterpillars and butterflies are the best example that we have for the way we can change our circumstances...All of us can change our lives into something beautiful!

Rambling Woods said...

Wow..your macro talent is amazing... You get to see their faces....You asked if I know who you are when you sign a comment and I always do so don't worry about it...Michelle

Craver Vii said...

How could you let that butterfly crawl on your hand? Aren't you afraid it will bite you? ;-)

Speaking of noxious smells, I know a child who has a nasty defense mechanism. She aims her little tookus and... well, she thinks she's a skunk.

Krista said...

WOW!

Here I thought I was so brave getting within three feet of the butterfly I posted this morning. LOL!

You inspire me to greater intestinal fortitude! LOL!

Krista

Craig Glenn said...

The bug lady never disappointments!

Great photo's J!!!

Craig Glenn

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hey Sreddy, good to hear from you again!! Just a few more months to go now and you are finished. Any idea what you are going to be doing afterwards? Maybe study further?

Yes, it sure has been icy and they say there is another cold front apprroaching but maybe the weekend will be nice. I hope so as I am enjoying sitting in the sun working on my laptop. :)

No, it is its antennae but it sure makes him look dangerous. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Diane. I hope it helped you. They are stunning beetles and we have one here which looks almost the same.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

They are one of my favorites Tom.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

It is amazing how these critters will do almost anything to survive. Those scent glands make them look mean and evil. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are right Mike. We all have it in us to change and right now I am going through such an amazing time with so many great things happening. Change is always good for us.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Michelle. I am always so pleased to get nice close-up pics like this.

Yip, I thought you would know who it is. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

As you have seen, I always have something crawling on me Craver and I dont know why. I am lucky that nothing bites or stings me either, they probably know that I bite back. :)

LOL!! Poor kid!! What a way to have to defend yourself!! Wonder where she learnt it from but if it works, it works. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! I am not sure I want to be called an inspiration Krista? :) But I must say you were VERY brave and next time it will be two feet, then you will have them on your hand too. They are such delicate creatures and could never do harm.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Craig. Geat to hear from you again as I missed you.

Mary said...

It certainly has a colorful caterpillar! Great shots!

Andrea said...

Ok...
For first I have to say the post is really interesting.
But the shots are really stunning!!!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Mary. I have one which has pupated and hanging for the winter in my citrus tree in the garden. I bet I will miss it emerging. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Andrea. I am pleased you found the post of interest and like the photographs. It is so nice when they turn out well like this.

birdy said...

Interesting and informative post. love your images. The citrus swallowtail of your area is somehow different from one present in our area.

Becky and Gary said...

Oh, that first shot is good enough for your book Joan. Perfect detail, and what a nifty butterfly. I love it.
B.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Wonderful to hear from you again Birdy. :) I would love to see it to compare and will do a search on your blog as I am sure you have a picture of one. Your pictures are always so brilliant.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Becky. It is definitely scheduled for publication. :)

Leedra said...

Very beautiful photographs.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Leedra. They are probably one of our most prolific butterflies but I never get tired of seeing them.

JM said...

Fantastic aliens! :-) And amazing close-ups, as usual!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! We have to be careful or these aliens will take over the world one day. :) Thanks Jose.

Craig Glenn said...

Great series J! I have really been interested in the butterflies lately. They are all over Maureen's beautiful garden. you capture them so beautifully!

Craig Glenn

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Craig. butterflies are a fantastic subject and this sure is the right time of year for them.

Lynda said...

Joan,
Sorry, I'm afraid I don't know anyone useful (the story of my life). I guess that's the price one pays for being a hermit.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

The story of my life too Lynda. :) No problem. Thanks. Hopefully this project of mine is going to get me back to being in my beloved bush again.