Black Swallowtail - Papilio polyxenes
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 3.8-4.5 cm. Tailed, thorax shoulders usually black (excluding desert southwest form). Uppersurface of both sexes primarily black; male with a yellow postmedian band, both sexes with submarginal row of small rounded yellow spots; hindwing with black pupil centered or reaching inner margin in red-orange eyespot at anal angle, female also with iridescent blue submarginal patch. Hindwing undersurface postmedian spot rows with at least some orange; abdomen with two or three longitudinal rows of yellow spots.
One flight, late may to late June in the north, late June to mid-August in Colorado mountains; several flights late April to September in lowland Colorado, February to October in southern California; many flights all year in Florida (Scott 1986). February to October across southwestern US, mainly May to September to the north (Glassberg 2001). May to early September in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late May to late October throughout Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), late June to late August in the mountains of central Colorado (Emmel 1964; Scott and Scott 1978).
Best determined by a combination of wings mostly black (excluding desert southwest form), uppersurface with submarginal row of small rounded yellow spots, hindwing with black pupil centered or reaching inner margin in red-orange eyespot at anal angle; hindwing undersurface postmedian spot rows with at least some orange; abdomen with two or three longitudinal rows of yellow spots.
Southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba south through eastern Wyoming and along Rocky Mountain front in Colorado, west through desert Southwest to southeastern California, east through most of temperate eastern North America; also south through Mexico and Central America to northern South America (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to 3048 m elevation in the southern Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1311 m to 2896 m elevation in central Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978). In Montana, reported originally from Sweet Grass County in southcentral Montana (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993), since then from Carter, Dawson, Powder River, and Wibaux counties in southeastern Montana (FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database) from about 640 m to 1067 m elevation. Uncommon to common (Glassberg 2001).
Gardens, hayfields, pastures, foothills, deserts, forest openings, other open habitats including above treeline (Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981; Feeny et al. 1985; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar.
Larval food plants mainly various native and introduced members of the Apiaceae, including Aegopodium, Angelica (multiple species), Anethum, Apium, Berula, Carum, Cicuta (multiple species), Conium, Crytotaenia, Cymopterus, Daucus, Foeniculum, Harbouria, Heracleum, Levisticum, Ligusticum, Osmorhiza, Oxypolis, Pastinaca, Petroselinum, Ptilimnium, Sium, Spermolepis, Taenidia, Tauschia, Thaspium, and Zizia, also members of the Rutaceae including Dictamnus, Ruta, and Thamnosma (Emmel 1964; Scriber and Finke 1978; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Agoseris, Asclepias, Astragalus, Baccharis, Bidens, Buddleja, Carduus, Castilleja, Cephalanthus, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Cleome, Conium, Delphinium, Dianthus, Dipsacus, Echinacea, Eriogonum, Erysimum, Euphorbia, Helianthus, Hemerocallis, Heterotheca, Krigia, Liatris, Lobelia, Lythrum, Medicago, Melilotus, Monarda, Nepeta, Oxytropis, Penstemon, Phlox, Prunus, Ribes, Scutellaria, Sedum, Senecio, Solidago, Stachys, Symphyotrichum, Syringa, Trifolium, Verbena, Vicia, and Zinnia (Tooker et al. 2002; Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly on host plant leaves (both surfaces) and inflorescences (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006). About 30-50 eggs laid/day, 200-900/lifetime over a 13 day period, eggs hatch in 6-8 days, develop to L5 instar and pupae in about 15-23 days, adults eclose (emerge) from pupae in about 11-12 days (Blau 1981; Feeny et al. 1985; Scott 1986); in multibrooded populations, overwinter (hibernate) as pupae (Scott 1979; Feeny et al. 1985). Larvae feed on host leaves and inflorescences, build no nests, pupate above ground on grasses, weedy stems, rocks, posts (West and Hazel 1979; Scott 1986). Males patrol and perch throughout the day, often on hilltops, awaiting and searching for females, and may be territorial (Scott 1975b, 1986; Lederhouse 1982; Feeny et al. 1985).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Blau, W.S. 1981. Life history variation in the Black Swallowtail butterfly. Oecologia. 48(1): 116-122.
- Emmel, T.C. 1964. The ecology and distribution of butterflies in a montane community near Florissant, Colorado. American Midland Naturalist 72(2): 358-373.
- Feeny, P., W.S. Blau, and P.M. Kareiva. 1985. Larval growth and survivorship of the Black Swallowtail butterfly in central New York. Ecological Monographs. 55(2): 167-187.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Lederhouse, R.C. 1982. Territorial defense and lek behavior of the Black Swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 10(2): 109-118.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2006. Butterfly hostplant records, 1992-2005, with a treatise on the evolution of Erynnis, and a note on new terminology for mate-locating behavior. Papilio new series #14. 74 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Scott, J.A. and G.R. Scott. 1978. Ecology and distribution of the butterflies of southern central Colorado. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 17(2): 73-128.
- Scriber, J.M. and M. Finke. 1978. New foodplant and oviposition records for the eastern Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes on an introduced and a native umbellifer. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 32: 236-238.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Tooker, J.F., P.F. Reagel, and L.M. Hanks. 2002. Nectar sources of day-flying lepidoptera of central Illinois. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 95(1): 84-96.
- West, D.A. and W.N. Hazel. 1979. Natural pupation sites of swallowtail butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilioninae): Papilio polyxenes Fabr., P. glaucus L. and Battus philenor (L.). Ecological Entomology 4(4): 387-392.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
- Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
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