Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Black Swallowtail
Papilio polyxenes Fabricius, 1775


Family: Papilionidae
Subfamily: Papilioninae
Identification: Upper surface of wings mostly black; on inner edge of hindwing is a black spot centered in larger orange spot. Male has yellow band near edge of wings; female has row of yellow spots. Female hindwing with iridescent blue band. In the Southwest, yellow forms predominate in the subspecies P. coloro.
Wing Span: 3 1/4 - 4 1/4 inches (8 - 11 cm).
Life History: Males perch and patrol for receptive females. Female lays eggs singly on leaves and flowers of the host, which are then eaten by hatching larvae. Hibernates as a chrysalis.
Flight: One-2 flights from April-October in northern regions of range; 3 flights in southern regions.
Caterpillar Hosts: Leaves of plants in the parsley family (Apiaceae) including Queen Anne's Lace, carrot, celery and dill. Sometimes plants in the citrus family (Rutaceae) are preferred.
Adult Food: Nectar from flowers including red clover, milkweed, and thistles.
Habitat: A variety of open areas including fields, suburbs, marshes, deserts, and roadsides.
Range: Most of the eastern U.S., north into Quebec, west into s. Saskatchewan, Colorado and se. California; south to n. South America. Subspecies coloro in desert Southwest.
Conservation: Not usually of concern.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: Maintain open fields in East.
Comments: NULL