Butterflies, like all organisms, are intent on surviving. Some live for only a few days while others live for many months in their adult stage, often surviving harsh winters or perilous journeys to food and breeding grounds. The goal is always the same: to mate, reproduce and continue the survival of the species.
Some butterflies have evolved clever tactics to disguise themselves and
avoid predation by birds. The viceroy butterfly has wing venation and color
that resembles those of the monarch butterfly, a species that is toxic to
birds. Monarch caterpillars ingest chemicals from milkweed plants (Asclepias
spp.) that make the adult butterfly
particularly unpalatable and in some cases, toxic. Birds know this. By assuming
the color and pattern of the monarch, the viceroy evades predators. Similarly, the red
spotted purple exhibits mimicry as it has evolved to look a lot like the
pipevine swallowtail, which is also toxic or unpleasant tasting. Birds don't take a chance and stay clear of the red-spotted purple, which, I bet is is absolutely delicious.
The orange dog (which is the caterpillar of the giant swallowtail) looks like bird poop. Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars have fake eye markings that make them look like a snake, a clever strategy to confuse and intimidate bird predators.
Newly hatched black swallowtail caterpillars have a white bar around their midsection and stubby projections overall.
Nevertheless, they are still preyed upon by wasps. I know they must eat too but I am bias and would much rather have more caterpillars than wasps on my fennel plant. I also welcome the ravenous ladybug nymph. Without it I think there would be many less black swallowtails for us to enjoy.