Giant Swallowtail Could Be Munching on Your Citrus!

There are A LOT of insects out in landscapes right now, including many chewing caterpillars. Some infestations of caterpillars are destructive to trees and need to be treated right away. Tent caterpillars, bag worms, fall webworms and the like are pests that should be addressed before they cause too much damage to your trees. Other caterpillars, however, might be worth leaving alone. One such chewing “beast” is the giant swallowtail butterfly caterpillar.

We found two of these huge butterfly larvae chewing away on some Choysia shrubs. Typically, giant swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on citrus plants. Choysia are in the same family as orange and other citrus plants, so we weren't surprised to find they'd taken up residence.

Agriculturally, giant swallowtail caterpillars can be a destructive pest. In the home garden, however, you may only encounter one or two caterpillars. So if you want to enjoy the giant swallowtail butterflies in your garden, let these critters munch for a bit. Soon, they'll pupate and stop feeding on your plants.

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