I was out looking at the apple tree today to see if I have any fruit forming yet. not this year it seems, but then I find a caterpillar sitting on a leaf, and it looks like it's floating on it.

What type of caterpillar is this? caterpillar

  • Photo's not good enough to see detail clearly, cant even tell if its actually a caterpillar, never mind what it is.Doesn't really look like a caterpillar from what I'm able to see....
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 0:57
  • Might be a cocoon because it was floating on the surface of the leaf, and sprayed with threads. Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


It seems like a young swallowtail caterpillar. Many swallowtail species share that "white arrow" bird-dropping stage. It should turn flashier in a few days.

I've only ever seen them on citrus trees, though.

  • Yep, I found one on the apple tree that looked like: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/… Do they harm the tree? Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:15
  • They are probably eating the leaves, but I don't think they will do much harm to an adult tree. Saplings can be completely defoliated, though.
    – user10810
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 1:11
  • It's an adult tree if it's not fruiting yet? It only has 5 feet and starting to bush out slightly. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 2:14
  • 1
    @blackthumb I think your tree should be safe but it will depend on the population of caterpillars relative to leaf surface.Their mother places them on new growth which is more nutritious. They'll only bother the older leaves if starving otherwise. Saplings get the short end by only having nutritious leaves.
    – user10810
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 3:01

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