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The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly is a dark beauty with a range that covers most of the U.S. and Mexico.
The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly has similar coloring found on Spicebush Swallowtails, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and Red-spotted Purple Admirals. It has elongated extensions, or 'tails', at the tips of the hindwings, as do all members of the Swallowtail family. Black wings have iridescent blue on the underside, along with orange and white eyespots that follow the wing's curve. White dots cover the black head and form a row on each side of the abdomen.
Wine-red caterpillars have clusters of bright red hairs along the top and sides of the body. They feed on chemically noxious pipevine plants like snakeroot and Dutchman's pipe. These caterpillars are able to build up an internal store of the distasteful chemical that stays with them as they develop. This renders the adult butterfly unpleasant to eat, so birds, reptiles, and other predators learn to avoid eating caterpillars and butterflies. 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 four generations can be produced per year in warm climates. Males can be seen congregating at 'puddle parties' where they take in water and minerals that dissolved in the water. They are less active at puddles and pond edges, allowing for a better look at their colors.
Scientific Name: Battus philenor
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 70mm to 86mm (2.73in to 3.35in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.