The Difference a Week Makes

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.

~Henry David Thoreau

Last week I shared some images of the some of the little things that are so fascinating in a big landscape like Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. I am aback this week and decided to check on one particular little thing while I was in the area – the palamedes swallowtail larva I found on a red bay leaf. I pulled up to the location of the small sapling, got out, and looked. At first I didn’t see it, but then…

Palamedes Swallowtail caterpillar on red bay 1

Palamedes swallowtail larva from last week (click photos to enlarge)

Sure enough, it is still on the same plant, a couple of leaves away. But, it has changed its attire and looks very different this week.

Palamedes swallowtail larvae after molt side view

Palamedes swallowtail caterpillar after its molt

It has molted to what I think is its fourth instar (they usually molt 5 times before pupating). It now looks more like part of a leaf  and less like bird poop. But it still has those bold false eyes and can resemble a small snake when it puffs its head and arches its body.

Palamedes swallowtail larvae after molt side view 1

Still may be protected by looking like a snake

Palamedes swallowtail larvae after molt head view

Here’s looking at you…

It moved about a foot away from its last leaf perch. Here’s hoping it makes it to another molt and fly away as a beautiful butterfly of the swamp.

2 thoughts on “The Difference a Week Makes

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