Photo by Melody

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

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Order: Lepidoptera (le-pid-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Papilionidae (pap-ill-lee-ON-ih-dee) (Info)
Genus: Battus (BAT-tus) (Info)
Species: philenor

Profile:

4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Regional...

This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Gulf Shores, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Saint David, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Barling, Arkansas
Deer, Arkansas
Hagarville, Arkansas
Marion, Arkansas
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Northridge, California
Redding, California
Washington, District Of Columbia
Lutz, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Cornelia, Georgia
Chester, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Coatesville, Indiana
London, Kentucky
Denham Springs, Louisiana
La Place, Louisiana
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Columbus, Mississippi
Wiggins, Mississippi
Hermann, Missouri
Concord, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)
Glouster, Ohio
Kellyville, Oklahoma
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Monessen, Pennsylvania
Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Dallas, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas
Houston, Texas
Irving, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Portland, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (4 reports)
San Isidro, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Charlottesville, Virginia
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By Magpye
Thumbnail #1 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #2 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #3 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #4 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by Magpye

By carrjohn

Thumbnail #5 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by carrjohn

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Thumbnail #6 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by carrjohn

By GD_Rankin

Thumbnail #7 of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by GD_Rankin

There are a total of 44 photos.
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Member Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral Magpye On Oct 6, 2006, Magpye from NW Qtr, AR
(Zone 6a) wrote:

Geographic Range:
Battus philenor is found in the southern half of the United States (occasionally further north), and ranges south to southern Mexico

Habitat:
Battus philenor is found mostly in warm climates through out North America. The species favors open woodlands, meadows, and anywhere else an abundance of pipevine grow, including backyard gardens and nurseries

Physical Description:
Wing span: 2 3/4 - 5 inches (7-13 cm)

The eggs of a pipevine swallowtail are red-orange and circular. As larvae (caterpillars) .. pipevine swallowtails are black, with red projections and spots running down their backs. When sunlight is hits the caterpillar it takes on a deep red color. The chrysalids of pipevine swallowtails have been recorded in two different colors, apparently depending on where the larva decides to cocoon. The chrysalis has its own shape distinct from other butterflies. The posterior end is segmented and has an inward curve; the ventral thorax of the chrysalis is raised, and the head has a pair of horns at the anterior dorsal portion.

The fore-wing of adults is coal-black above and gray below. The dorsal hind-wing is where the males and females are noticeably different. Males have smaller cream or pale spots than females, and the spots run along the fringe of the wings. Males are also a brighter metallic blue than their female counterparts, in the dorsal hind wing region. The bottom half of the ventral hind wing of males and females is metallic blue; a single row of seven orange spots and small pale, cream dots are found at the edge of the wing within the metallic blue section.

Reproduction:
Pipevine swallowtail males spend most of their time looking to breed with females. Once a male has located a female, he will quickly land and attemp to mate. Females lay clusters of eggs on or under leaves of pipevines and mostly exposed in the sun. Larva (caterpillars) hatch from the eggs and begin feeding on the host plant. Once they have eaten enough, and matured enough, the larva will metamorphose into a pupa, or chrysalis. It spends the winter as a chrysalis (or in warm regions, just a few weeks), and emerges as an adult in the spring

Behavior:
The pipevine swallowtail feeds on pipevines (Aristolochia) as larvae. Pipvines are toxic to other animals, but not Battus philenor. The caterpillars and later stages retain the toxins from the plant and use them to discourage predators. Many other buttterflies mimic Battus philenor as a form of defense, because B. philenor has a bad taste and releases a toxic chemical

Food Habits:
As larvae .. pipevine swallowtails, feed only on plants in the genus Aristolochia (known as pipevines).

As a butterfly, Battus philenor feeds soley on nectar from flowers, including thistles (Cirsium), bergamot, lilac, viper's bugloss, common azaleas, phlox, teasel, dame's rocket, lantana, petunias, verbenas, lupines, yellow start thistle, California buckeye, yerba santa, brodiaceas, and gilias

Conservation Status:
Pipevine swallowtails are, for now, secure globally.

In Michigan, where they reach the northern limit of their range, they are listed as a species of special concern.

Other Comments:
Pipevine swallowtails can quickly learn to associate certain flower colors with nectar supplies. They may be as intelligent as honeybees in this regard (Milius 1998).

Positive TexasPuddyPrint On Nov 19, 2006, TexasPuddyPrint from Edinburg, TX wrote:

There are gobs of Pipevine Swallowtails back at the ranch. They use a native larval host plant called Swanflower aka Texas Black Flower (aristolochia erecta) to lay their eggs on. That plant grows only about 4 inches tall and tends to crawl along the ground. It is extremely hard to find considering the back pastures are overgrown with grass, weeds and native scrub brush. The only way I've been able to find it is to watch the female pipevines as they flit along the ground testing plants :o) You can also find the bright orangish red caterpillars near the top of surrounding grass as they tend to climb up as evening settles in. Same goes for early morning...you can spot them easily before they crawl down to their larval host.

Positive TheLoveofFlowers On Mar 9, 2008, TheLoveofFlowers from Saint Paul, MN
(Zone 4a) wrote:

I saw one of these in southeastern Wisconsin once. It was quite a rare find. I think the specimen must had strayed far out of its normal range.

Positive twopuppies On May 12, 2008, twopuppies from Chester, IL wrote:

I have seen none here this season and have yet to locate the larval plant, but it is an early season for swallowtails so I am watching!

Positive Buttoneer On Jul 3, 2012, Buttoneer from Carlisle, PA
(Zone 6b) wrote:

This is a positive general informational note.:
The caterpillars will reveal two yellow horns near it's head, if disturbed. If a bird picks up the caterpillar, the taste emanating from these horns is distasteful to the bird and is a protection to the caterpillar. This caterpillar is feeding on my Pipevines: Aristolochia durior and Aristolochia baetica.
The butterflies are laying eggs on the host plants, so I assume these caterpillars pupated over the winter, came out in the spring & have grown large enough to pupate while the butterflies are laying their eggs.


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