Rusty-black caterpillars have clusters of bright red hairs feed along the top and sides of the body. They fee on noxious pipevines like snakeroot and Dutchman's pipe. They build up a body of the unsavory chemical and render their adult form somewhat unpleasant to eat. Birds and other predators usually learn to avoid eating the adults. Other butterflies with similar coloring benefit from the Pipevine Swallowtail's bitter-tasting reputation.
Adults can be found in a variety of habitats including gardens, forests, canyons and meadows. two to 4 generations can be produced a year in warm climates. Males can be seen congregating at 'puddle parties' where they take in water and minerals. They are less inclined to continually flutter their wings when they are at puddles and pond edges, allowing for a better look at them.