National Geographic : 1914 Jul
© WHAT THE LARVA OF A BEAUTIFUL SWALLOW-TAIL BUTTERFLY LOOKS LIKE. S S THIS, I wonder, an insect make-believe, a caterpillar mask, as it were, to frighten away enemies? The black and white eye-spots are not real eyes, but to a bird they doubtless seem so. Its real eyes are inconspicuous points at each side of the head, too small to appear in the photograph. This monster is a leaf-eating creature, its purpose being the accumulation of food material out of which is made inside of it the gorgeous swallow-tail butterfly. It feeds on sassafras and spice-bush leaves, and when the time arrives makes a nest for itself by fastening the edges of a leaf together. In this nest it passes the winter. When spring comes it breaks open the gray shell of the chrysalis, unfolds a pair of black and gold wings with long tails to them, and flies away in the sunshine in search of flowers and a mate. It is then no more like this monster than an eagle is like a hippopotamus; yet after it has flown about, sucking nectar through its long beak, it mates and lays a mass of eggs, out of which hatch again these strange, weird beings. Photograph by David Fairchild. From the "Book of Monsters," by David and Marian Fairchild, published by the National Geographic Society.