Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Black Swallowtail Butterfly – Papilio polyxenes
Live butterflies photographed at West Chicago Prairie, DuPage County, Illinois
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Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Life Cycle: Eggs are yellow. Caterpillars range up to 2" long, white to green with black bands on each segment, with yellow or orange spots. Host plants include Queen Anne's Lace and other members of the carrot family as well as some members of the citrus family. 2 or 3 broods; February – November in south. Habitat: Meadows, fields, farmland, gardens and watersides. Seldom found in woods or forests. Range: Southern Canada east of Rocky Mountains south to Arizona and Mexico, east to Atlantic Ocean [3].

Black Swallowtails are attracted to parsley and carrot plants, and take nectar at various flowers including phlox and milkweeds. Their flight is much less frenzied than the pipevine swallowtail, which it resembles. Black Swallowtails' flight is swooping and dipping, a real joy to watch – but hell for a shutterbug bent on a good picture of this gentle creature.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Papilio polyxenes
Habitat: Deciduous forests, clearings and wooded glades, roadsides, parks, meadows and fields [2].

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Papilio polyxenes


  1., black swallowtail
  2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders Chanticleer Press 1980
  3. Eric Eaton & Ken Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
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Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.
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