Sipping juice from rotting fruit ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Slurping gooey bird poop ~ ~ ~ ~ Drinking nectar from a flower

Butterflies are all on a
liquid diet.  They must drink all their nutrition through their hollow straw-like
tongue called a
proboscis.  Flowers are not the only source of food for these flying beauties.  They will
also obtain vitamins and minerals from mud puddles, rotting fruit, animal droppings and sticky tree sap.
Black Swallowtail
Giant Swallowtail
Zebra Swallowtail
An osmeterium is a fleshy organ shaped like a snake tongue used as a defense mechanism by swallowtail
caterpillars all over the world.  Normally hidden behind the head, this structure can pop out very quickly
and release a foul odor whenever the caterpillar feels threatened.  These photos show several different
colors of those smelly glands.  We like to tickle them with a feather just to see their reaction!
Question Mark
Spicebush Swallowtail
                                               Just Hanging Around
There are 3 different ways a caterpillar may position itself before it pupates (forms a chrysalis).  Each
butterfly species has its own method.  It will either
(1) use silk to wrap up in a leaf (check out the picture
of the duskywing caterpillar "sewing" a leaf together,
(2) hang straight down while clinging to a patch of
silk, or
(3) strap itself to a stick or something using silk threads as a harness.  It is very important that the
caterpillars are
not disturbed during this stage, because they can easily be injured or killed.
Black Swallowtail
Hickory Horned Devil
Giant Swallowtail
Butterfly and moth caterpillars have two different kinds of feet.  The 3 pairs by the head in the front are
like little claws that hold onto food while they are eating.  The fleshy-looking ones along the body and on
the rear end are covered with tiny hooks (think of Velcro) that let the caterpillar get-a-grip (even up-side
down) on stems, sticks, leaves or whatever else it may be crawling on.  Click on the photo and take a
close look at the feet on the Hickory Horned Devil.  They look like long fingers with black fingernails!
Butterfly eggs come in many different shapes, colors and textures.  Some are round and smooth like a
tiny pearl.  Others are barrel-shaped with ridges or covered in bumps or dimples.  Some butterflies lay
their eggs one per leaf, while others arrange theirs in groups or stack them one on top of the other.  
These pictures are greatly magnified.  
In reality, these eggs are about the size of the zero on the date
of a coin
.  Get out a penny and take a look at how small that is!
Tiger Swallowtail
Question Mark butterfly
Pipevine Swallowtail
Check out these Silver-spotted Skipper eggs.  When the egg is brand new, it is cream-colored.  After a
couple of days it shows a red ring around the middle.  In a few more days the egg becomes transparent
and you can see the dark form of the caterpillar showing through the thin eggshell.  Many butterfly
eggs undergo these color changes as the egg matures.