What Do Yellow Swallowtail Caterpillars Eat

I am really into butterflies and moths. Learning about the special relationships between plants and insects is endlessly fascinating to me. It is amazing how some of the most beautiful creatures on Earth eat things that most humans wouldn’t dream of eating! For example, did you know that yellow swallowtail caterpillars mostly eat parsley, carrots and celery? I bet you didn’t!

What Do Yellow Swallowtail Caterpillars Eat

The yellow swallowtail caterpillar mostly eats parsley, carrots and celery.

The yellow swallowtail caterpillar mostly eats parsley, carrots and celery. Other swallowtail caterpillars eat different plants; for example, the monarch butterfly caterpillar eats milkweed plants.

The yellow swallowtail caterpillar can be a pest on parsley, carrots and celery. If you have a problem with this pest in your garden, try planting another type of plant that is not attractive to it. The white-spotted tussock moth will also feed on these plants but is less destructive than the yellow swallowtail caterpillar. This insect feeds on members of the Apiaceae family (also known as Umbelliferae), including many species of carrots, parsnip, cilantro and dill weed as well as some wildflowers such as Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot flowers when their seeds have matured into seedpods (for example iris).

Yellow swallowtail caterpillars eat the only food that their mothers can find for them.What Do Swallowtail Caterpillars Eat? - AZ Animals

If you’ve ever wondered what yellow swallowtail caterpillars eat, the answer is simple: only the milk from their mother’s body. As newborns, these creatures have no gut and are therefore unable to eat solid food until they molt for the first time.

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After giving birth to her young and providing them with some time to grow, a female yellow swallowtail butterfly will begin laying eggs on host plants for her offspring to feed on. These host plants are often milkweed plants—a type of plant that produces large amounts of white sap that can be easily converted into nutritional energy by these newborn caterpillars as they crawl around looking for something yummy-looking (and safe) to chew on.

Once they find it? Well…you know where this is going!

There are other varieties of Swallowtail butterflies, but many of them eat the same variety of plants that yellow swallowtails do.

You might be wondering what the yellow swallowtail butterfly eats. The answer is similar to many other types of swallowtail butterflies: they eat plants from the buttercup family, which includes dandelions and asters. In fact, this species is so common that it can be found throughout North America and even parts of South America. There are many varieties of swallowtail butterflies, but many of them feed on the same kinds of plants that yellow swallowtails do – so if you notice one eating your dandelions or sunflowers (two popular varieties), don’t worry! They’re just doing their job as pollinators – helping to spread pollen from plant to plant so they can produce seeds!

Swallowtails eat members of the plant family Umbelliferae, also known as Apiaceae.

Swallowtails are a member of the family Papilionidae, which also contains the monarch butterfly. They belong to the genus Battus and their main food source is members of the plant family Umbelliferae, also known as Apiaceae.

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These plants are characterized by their umbrella-like arrangement of flowers that grow atop stems called peduncles (it’s where you get “umbrella” from).

Members of this family include carrots, parsnips, parsley, dill, fennel and celery.

You can also find this family in some of your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips and parsley. They can also be found in dill, fennel and celery. If you’re interested in finding out which plants are members of the carrot family—and which are not—check out our list here!

Members of this family include Queen Anne’s lace, rue and lilac; hemlock; buttercup; goldenrod; rattleweed (pictured)

Other flowering plants they eat in their caterpillar state include Queen Anne’s lace, rue and lilac.

Yellow swallowtail caterpillars eat a wide variety of plants. They feed on Apiaceae, Umbelliferae, Solanaceae and Asteraceae species.

One member of this family is poisonous to humans but not to swallowtail caterpillars or adults. It is called hemlock.

  • Hemlock is a poisonous plant, but not to swallowtail caterpillars or adults.
  • It belongs to the Apiaceae family of plants.
  • It is a perennial herb and native to North America and Asia.

The yellow swallowtail eats a variety of plants while it is a caterpillar.

The yellow swallowtail caterpillar eats a variety of plants, including members of the plant family Umbelliferae. Other flowering plants which are eaten by these larvae include Queen Anne’s lace, rue and lilac.

When feeding on these plants as a caterpillar, you should be aware that some species of butterfly can be poisonous to humans if ingested or handled.


Now you have a well-rounded understanding of the yellow swallowtail butterfly’s life cycle AND its diet. With this knowledge, we hope to inspire your next outdoor adventure with these beautiful winged creatures! Not only do they make for great photo opportunities, but their presence in our ecosystem is essential for pollination.

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