Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes Fabricius)
Wing span: 3 1/4 - 4 1/4 inches (8 - 11 cm).
Identification: Upper surface of wings mostly black; on inner edge of hindwing is a black spot centered in larger orange spot. Male has yellow band near edge of wings; female has row of yellow spots. Female hindwing with iridescent blue band. In the Southwest, yellow forms predominate in the subspecies P. coloro.
Life history: Males perch and patrol for receptive females. Female lays eggs singly on leaves and flowers of the host, which are then eaten by hatching larvae. Hibernates as a chrysalis.
Flight: One-2 flights from April-October in northern regions of range; 3 flights in southern regions.
Caterpillar hosts: Leaves of plants in the parsley family (Apiaceae) including Queen Anne's Lace, carrot, celery and dill. Sometimes plants in the citrus family (Rutaceae) are preferred.
Adult food: Nectar from flowers including red clover, milkweed, and thistles.
Habitat: A variety of open areas including fields, suburbs, marshes, deserts, and roadsides.
Range: Most of the eastern U.S., north into Quebec, west into s. Saskatchewan, Colorado and se. California; south to n. South America. Subspecies coloro in desert Southwest.
Conservation: Not usually of concern.
Management needs: Maintain open fields in East.
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:
Neck, R.W. 1996. A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas. Gulf Publishing Co., Houston, Texas. Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo. Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Tveten, J. and Tveten, G. 1996. Butterflies of Houston & Southeast Texas. Univ. of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 292 pp.