The Spicebush Swallowtail is one of North America's most popular butterflies and it benefits from mimicking a toxic doppleganger.
This species of butterfly can be found in gardens and at the edges of forests. Its coloration resembles that of the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, however, the Spicebush Swallowtail has two rows of orange spots on the bottom of the hindwings (seen when wings are closed) whereas the Pipevine has only one row of orange spots. Fortunately for the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly, the Pipevine Swallowtail is an unsavory meal for birds, arachnids, and other insects so its similarity in appearance offers it some protection from predators.
The Spicebush Swallowtail has an overall greenish tint to its wings. It also has the elongated 'tails' at the tips of the hindwings like all Swallowtails. Females have a band of blue along the base of the hindwings that is visible when the wings are open flat. Males have a band of greenish-white instead of blue.
It is most commonly seen in the warmer states of the southern U.S., but its range ventures as far north as southern Ontario. It is associated with the spicebush plant, a shrub with a spicy-lemony type of scent that is best appreciated by crushing a few leaves in your hand. Males are often seen drinking water from puddles formed by wet mud. Caterpillars feed on spicebush, sassafras, and bay plants. The green caterpillar has a humpback with a large black and yellow eyespot on its sides. It is a tidy little creature, wrapping a leaf around itself for a shelter, pushing it own feces out of its retreat in order to keep it clean.
Scientific Name: Papilio troilus
Other Name(s): Green Clouded Swallowtail
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 89mm to 114mm (3.47in to 4.45in)
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.