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.
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* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Pipevine Swallowtail may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Pipevine Swallowtail. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.