Papilio glaucus, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), one of the more common species of butterfly at Ruffner, begins its life cycle as one of these guys, deep green and appearing perpetually determined due to its conspicuous eyespots. These black and yellow markings mimic two large eyes, which scientists believe serve to deter insect-eating predators, such as birds. In this, the fourth instar, or stage, of the caterpillar's life cycle, it is a leafy green. However, in the first three instars, it manifests as a brownish-white in order to mimic bird droppings on leaves. Clearly, the development of this curious creature is intimately and oddly linked to the birds that glide above it. And if the caterpillar is lucky that is exactly where they'll stay.