Giant Swallowtail Cat on Hoptree Leaf
Caterpillars themselves are not pollinators, but they grow up to be pollinators. Most cats* feed on fresh green leaves of their food plants, and many are highly specialized on native species. If you want beautiful moths and butterflies flying around your garden, you'll want to plant the food plants of the caterpillars. You'll need to plant native species. Caterpillars are fascinating animals in their own right, and a major food source for birds. Native plants attract the insects, insects attract the birds. This is what biodiversity gardening is all about. The image shows the defensive display of a papilionid. All papilionid cats have an osmeterium (forked red structure), or an everscible gland behind the head that emits a foul odor, warding off potential predators (Cat: Papilionidae: "Papilio cresphontes"; plant: Rutaceae: hop tree, "Ptelea trifoliata"). *those of us that love caterpillars refer to them as "cats" for short.