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  • Black Swallowtail - (Papilio polyxenes)

    Black Swallowtail - (Papilio polyxenes)

    Adult and larval Black Swallowtails may be so abundant because they have great defensive strategies: mimicry and acrid discharge.

    Staff Writer (2/28/2017): The Black Swallowtail looks almost identical to the pungent-tasting Pipevine Swallowtail. This mimicry is a good defense against predators. The caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail also has a defensive organ called an osmeterium. This "Y" shaped, fleshy organ is normally hidden, but will protrude if the caterpillar is threatened. It will then emit terpenes, an organic chemical that smells foul and discourages would-be predators from eating the caterpillar.

    Most of the desert populations are yellow, while other populations are more black.

    They can be found in gardens, meadows, forests and other habitats. Adults drink flower nectar and are attracted to dill and fennel plants. Caterpillars eat the leaves of pipevines, Dutchman's pipe and snakeroot as well as dill, carrots and parsley plants.

    Females lay eggs in spring and caterpillars emerge. They form a chrysalis (cocoon) on a stem or branch and tie it to that stem with a single strand of silk. It overwinters in the chrysalis, which turns from green to brown as it ages. Adult butterflies emerge in the spring.

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    Details of the:
    Black Swallowtail

    Category: Butterfly or Moth
    Common name: Black Swallowtail
    Scientific Name: Papilio polyxenes
    Other Names: Parsley Swallowtail

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Lepidoptera
          Family: Papilionidae
           Genus: Papilio
            Species: polyxenes

    Size (Adult, Length): 67mm to 89mm (2.64in to 3.50in)

    Identifying Colors: black; yellow; orange; blue; white,red

    Additional Descriptors: flying, helpful, tails, speckled, shiny, metallic

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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