Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus [Cramer])
Wing span: 2 1/2 - 4 inches (6.4 - 10.4 cm).
Identification:Upper surface of wings with black stripes on pale whitish-green background; hindwings have very long tails. Early-spring form is smaller and lighter colored.
Life history: Adult males fly in the understory near host plants to find females. Females lay single green eggs on lower leaves of host plant. Caterpillars live and feed on the underside of these leaves, then pupate and hibernate there.
Flight: Two flights, April-August, in the northern part of its range; many flights, March-December, in the south.
Caterpillar hosts: Shrubs of the genus Asimina (pawpaw) in the Annonaceae family. Young plants are preferred.
Adult food: Moisture from sand and nectar from flowers including blueberry, blackberry, lilac, redbud, viper's bugloss, verbena, dogbane, and common milkweed.
Habitat: Breeds in moist low woodlands near swamps and rivers. Adults fly to nectar plants in open fields and brushy areas.
Range: Rare in northern part of range.
Conservation: Not usually of concern.
Management needs: Maintain host trees in various stages of succession.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.