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Butterflies of Indiana -- Papilio troilus

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Butterflies of Indiana

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
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Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus Linnaeus)

Wing span: 3 - 4 inches (7.5 - 10 cm).

Identification: Upper surface of forewing is mostly black with ivory spots along margin. Upper surface of hindwing has orange spot on costal margin and sheen of bluish (female) or bluish-green (male) scales. Underside of hindwing with pale green marginal spots.

Life history: Males patrol in woods, roads and woodland edges to find receptive females. Females lay single eggs on underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars live in shelters of folded-over leaves and come out to feed at night. Some chrysalids from each generation hibernate.

Flight: 2 generations per year from April-October. In Florida, several generations between March-December.

Caterpillar hosts: Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum); perhaps prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), and redbay (Persea borbonia).

Adult food: Nectar from Japanese honeysuckle, jewelweed, thistles, milkweed, azalea, dogbane, lantana, mimosa, and sweet pepperbush.

Habitat: Deciduous woodlands, fields, roadsides, yards, pine barrens, wooded swamps, and parks.

Range: Eastern states from southern Canada to Florida; west to Oklahoma and central Texas. Occasionally strays to North Dakota, central Colorado, and Cuba.

Conservation: Not usually required.

Management needs: None noted.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

References:

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.

Shull, E.M.  1987.  The Butterflies of Indiana.  Indiana Academy of Science.
     Indiana Univ. Press.  Bloomington & Indianapolis, IN.  262 pp.
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
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