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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Florida

Schaus' Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus)
JPG -- species photo

Schaus' Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus Schaus)

Wing span: 3 5/8 - 4 5/8 inches (9.2 - 11.8 cm)

Identification: Upperside of forewing has narrow central yellow band. Tails edged with yellow, filled with black.

Life history: Males patrol in tree canopy for receptive females. Females lay single eggs on top of young host plant leaves. Caterpillars feed on young leaves and shoots. Hibernate as chrysalids, which can remain dormant for up to 2 years. Adult emergence is triggered by rainfall.

Flight: Primary flight from late April to mid-June; some adults fly in late July and early September.

Caterpillar hosts: Plants in the citrus family (Rutaceae) including Citrus species, hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata), Zanthoxylum spp., and torchwood (Amyris elemifera).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of cheese-shrub, wild coffee, and guava.

Habitat: Found only in tropical hardwood hammocks and neighboring scrub areas.

Range: North Key Largo and the larger Keys in Biscayne National Monument (subspecies ponceanus), south to the Greater Antilles (other subspecies).

Conservation: Listed in 1984 as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

Management needs: For subspecies ponceanus, maintain hardwood hammocks on upper keys, prevent mosquito fogging, and reintroduce to vacant habitats.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: Subspecies ponceanus has The Nature Conservancy Global Rank of T1 - Critically imperiled globally because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences, or very few remaining individuals), or because of some factor of its biology making it especially vulnerable to extinction. (Critically endangered throughout its range). The species as a whole has The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.


Matthews, J. R., editor. 1990. The official World Wildlife Fund guide to
     endangered species of North America, Vol. 2.  Beacham Publishing, Inc.,
     Washington, D.C. 636 pages.

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:

Gerberg, E.J. and Arnett, R.H., Jr.  Florida Butterflies.  Natural Science
     Publications, Inc.  Baltimore, MD.  90 pp.

Kimball, C.P.  1965.  Arthropods of Florida and Neighboring Land Areas - Vol. 1:
     Lepidoptera of Florida.  Div. of Plant Industry, State of Florida Dept. 
     of Agriculture.  Gainesville, FL.  363 pp. 

Minno, M.C. and Emmel, T.C.  1993.  Butterflies of the Florida Keys.  Scientific
     Publishers.  Gainesville, FL.  168 pp.
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     

Smith, D.S., Miller, L.D. and Miller, J.Y.  1994.  The Butterflies of the West
     Indies and South Florida.  Oxford Univ. Press.  Oxford, U.K.  264 pp.
Schaus' Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus)
distribution map
map legend

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