Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly – Battus philenor

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly – Battus philenor
Live swallowtail butterflies photographed in the wild at Alpharetta GA and Corpus Christi TX.
Butterfly Main | Butterfly Index | Swallowtails

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
Identification: Upper surface of hindwings iridescent blue or blue-green. Underside of hindwing with submarginal row of 7 round orange spots in iridescent blue field. Life history: Adult males patrol likely habitat in search of receptive females. Females lay batches of eggs on underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars feed gregariously when young but become solitary. Chrysalis overwinters.

Caterpillar host plants: Pipevine (Aristolochia species), including Aristolochia californica, A. serpentaria and others. Pipevines confer a poisonous quality to the larvae and resulting adults, much as the monarch butterfly obtains protection by feeding on milkweed. Adults seek nectar from flowers including thistles (Cirsium species), bergamot, lilac, viper's bugloss, common azaleas, phlox, teasel, azaleas, dame's-rocket, lantana, petunias, verbenas, lupines,  star thistle, buckeye and butterfly bush.

Black Swallowtail
The Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) is a pipevine swallowtail mimic

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

  1. Opler, Paul A., Harry Pavulaan, Ray E. Stanford, Michael Pogue, coordinators. 2006. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Bozeman, MT: NBII Mountain Prairie Information Node
  2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders (North America), Chanticleer Press 1980
  3. Eric Eaton & Ken Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Hillstar Editions 2007
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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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Photos © Andrew Willias used with permission