A female Western tiger swallowtail recently laid her eggs on one of the Catalina cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii) bushes. A few weeks have passed and there is now many larvae munching away on the leaves. This plant produces some of my most favorite eatables in the garden (delectable cherries!), but I’m not worried about the caterpillar’s appetite – I consider it to be nature’s tax, which is only fair.
Below is one of the typical early instar larva of a Western tiger swallowtail. Measuring in at just over an eighth of an inch, these camouflaged caterpillars are some of easiest to overlook because who takes a second look at bird poop?