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Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Zebra Swallowtail.

 Updated: 9/11/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Like the pawpaws it feeds on, the warm-weather loving Zebra Swallowtail is rarely seen outside of the American Southeast.



As part of its name suggests, the Zebra Swallowtail is white with black stripes. These stripes are thicker in individuals born in the heat of the summer. The overall wing shape resembles a kite, and this butterfly is sometimes called just that: a Kite Swallowtail. The long tail at the end of each hindwing is a common feature on most Swallowtails. They are narrow and white with black centers. A red spot at the inner edge of each hindwing lends a pop of color at the tip of the abdomen. On the underside of the forewings, the stripes are still present, but a vibrant red fills in the gap between two middle stripes. Iridescent blue sits at the bottom edge of the hindwings, just before the tail extension.

The Zebra Swallowtail is the only white Swallowtail in its range. It can produce 2-3 broods each year. They are mostly seen in the spring, but they fly all summer long. Caterpillars love to eat the leaves of the Pawpaw Tree, a native southern tree that produces large, impressive fruits that have a sweet, custard-like taste and texture. (Pawpaw fruit has rarely been seen outside of the South.) Larvae also eat from white squirrel banana trees, also called royal false pawpaws, that are native to Florida. Zebra Swallowtails can be found flying as late as December in the warmest parts of Florida. Caterpillars are fleshy and, depending on maturity, can be blue-gray, black, or green. A tri-colored band of blue-black-yellow forms a ring on a swollen area near the head.

Look for adults drinking nectar from flowers in areas that are near woods and moisture. This species is a great example of an endemic insect benefiting from, as well as supporting, an endemic plant population.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Papilionidae
          Genus: Eurytides
            Species: marcellus
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Eurytides marcellus
Other Name(s): Kite Swallowtail, Pawpaw Butterfly, The Ajax, Black-barred Swallowtail
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 64mm to 105mm (2.50in to 4.10in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, white, red, blue
Descriptors: tiger stripes, red line, long tails, large, flying
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
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
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American butterfly and moth insect
1
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
3
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
5
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
6
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.