We found the most beautiful caterpillar on our garden a couple of weeks ago. I looked it up on the internet to learn more about it. It eats plants from the parsley and carrot family and some farmers/gardeners spray to kill these great creatures. Through observation, we've learned that this caterpillar really doesn't eat much but poops a great deal (a natural fertilizer!) Since we had to take it with us when we go to the trailer, we learned that there are many plants that grow wild in the families of plants that it will eat. So, the likeliness that these caterpillars will eat our garden plants only is extremely unlikely. Also, we learned right away what it's defense mechanism is. It smells really bad!!! When it's being threatened it pops out these beautiful bright red/orange antenna (actually called in scientific terms "osmeterium") and sprays a smell to repel predictors. So in doing this, we would be safe to assume, that this could keep some garden pests away (rabbits, birds etc.)
Friend or Foe? I'd vote Friend! They would be more beneficial to keep in the garden instead of killing them.
This caterpillar is bright green and black striped with yellow dots and the antenna are bright orange/red ("osmeterium"). This is a picture of it's current condition (it's in the chrysalis stage). As you can see, it's very camouflaged on a stick or near the ground. Soon we'll see the butterfly emerge. It is suppose to be a fairly large black butterfly with yellow markings. I'll add to the post when we have that happen and let it go.