Photo by Melody

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Order: Lepidoptera (le-pid-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Papilionidae (pap-ill-lee-ON-ih-dee) (Info)
Genus: Papilio (pap-ILL-ee-oh) (Info)
Species: polyxenes


12 positives
7 neutrals
No negatives


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Laceys Spring, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Barling, Arkansas
Deer, Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Marion, Arkansas
North Little Rock, Arkansas
San Diego, California
Denver, Colorado
Danbury, Connecticut
Bear, Delaware
Dover, Delaware
Ellendale, Delaware
Boca Raton, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Loxahatchee, Florida
Mascotte, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Melbourne Beach, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Byron, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Lula, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Chester, Illinois
Galva, Illinois
Hinsdale, Illinois
La Grange Park, Illinois
Palmyra, Illinois
Peoria, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Coatesville, Indiana
Farmersburg, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Macy, Indiana
Cadiz, Kentucky
Calvert City, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Denham Springs, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Durham, Maine
Fallston, Maryland
Boston, Massachusetts
Halifax, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Northville, Michigan
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota (2 reports)
Wayzata, Minnesota
Columbus, Mississippi
Marietta, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Lincoln, Nebraska
Dover, New Hampshire
Hudson, New Hampshire
Allentown, New Jersey
Egg Harbor City, New Jersey
Marlton, New Jersey
New Milford, New Jersey
Henrietta, New York
Lake Grove, New York
Southold, New York
Cary, North Carolina
Concord, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Gates, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Newland, North Carolina
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Bowling Green, Ohio
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Kellyville, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Middleburg, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Manning, South Carolina
Clarksville, Tennessee
Gainesboro, Tennessee
Abilene, Texas
Amarillo, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Carrollton, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Denton, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Rosenberg, Texas
Snook, Texas
Spring, Texas
Victoria, Texas
West Dummerston, Vermont
Newport News, Virginia
Urbanna, Virginia
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By PanamonCreel
Thumbnail #1 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by PanamonCreel

By PanamonCreel

Thumbnail #2 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by PanamonCreel

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Thumbnail #3 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by PanamonCreel

By PanamonCreel

Thumbnail #4 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by PanamonCreel

By PanamonCreel

Thumbnail #5 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by PanamonCreel

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Thumbnail #6 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by PanamonCreel

By Marilynbeth

Thumbnail #7 of Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by Marilynbeth

There are a total of 95 photos.
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Member Notes:

Neutral Magpye On Aug 16, 2006, Magpye from NW Qtr, AR
(Zone 6a) wrote:

Wing span: 3 1/4 - 4 1/4 inches (8 - 11 cm).

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.

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.

Neutral SPRINTER On Aug 26, 2006, SPRINTER from Harrisburg, PA wrote:


Neutral jswords On Sep 27, 2006, jswords from columbus, MS
(Zone 7b) wrote:

The butterfly that this pretty caterpillar becomes is just lovely, but boy! he and his family ate an entire parsley shrub overnight! Fortunately, they are eating at the end of the season here (7b), and the parsely had already gone to seed for next year. the caterpillar is about 1-2" long, bright green with black and white horizontal stripes, and yellow dots on each band of black.
They love anything in the carrot family, so the website says...carrots, dill, parsley....
I'm kind of looking forward to seeing the chrysalis in a couple of weeks!

Positive organic1 On Nov 18, 2006, organic1 from DFW Metroplex, TX
(Zone 8a) wrote:

I found about 30 caterpillars on my single rue plant 24 September. By 1 October, they were all gone, and part of my plant, too. The damage is simply cosmetic. The plant is fine. One must be willing to sacrifice a part of their gardens’ beauty to enjoy the winged beauties later.

Positive Marilynbeth On Nov 21, 2006, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

I always love to see these BF's in the garden! They are so beautiful! I'm happy to offer host plants and nectar plants!

Neutral catbird8 On Jun 22, 2007, catbird8 from Houston, TX wrote:

I could not find the Western Black Swallowtail in the overview. It does exist and has been documented as far East as Houston. Hard to tell the difference between East and West, but it can be done, especially with good confirmation photographs. Some butterfly books do not note the two, listing only Black Swallowtail.

Positive pford1854 On Jun 24, 2007, pford1854 from Marion, AR
(Zone 7b) wrote:

After having at least 14 Caterpillars on my Dill plants outside, and after witnessing several Wasps "steal" the Caterpillars away, I finally took the remaining 5 inside on some Dill cuttings, into a vase. They continued to eat, poop, and sleep. Then after being about nine days old, they suddenly left the plants and starting climbing my walls and onto the ceiling. I put my gloves on, and gathered them into a coffee can, with a mesh lid. They made a horrible smell and stuck out the yellow "antlers" from their heads as I carried them. In the can, they quickly settled down and became real still, and started to curve their bodies so that only their tails were anchored onto the plant. Somehow, they make a thread around the waist of their bodies to help hold them into place. The next morning, they had shed their last Caterpillar skin and had become a cocoon. The coccon was Lt green, with some Yellow patterns. I look forward to witnessing them break free in a few days......

Positive daylilylib On Jun 24, 2007, daylilylib from Egg Harbor City, NJ wrote:

I saw this butterfly in late June in one of my daylilies. Very beautiful!

Positive fly_girl On Aug 17, 2007, fly_girl from The Woodlands, TX
(Zone 8b) wrote:

These butterflies can have two colors of chrysalids; dark brown or light brown. Usually, the dark brown will be on a rough surface and the light will be on a smooth surface.

Positive EJM1027 On Sep 3, 2007, EJM1027 from Urbanna, VA wrote:

I'm curious to know if this late (Sept 3) in the East/mid-Atlantic if the chrysalis is for over-wintering now? They have enjoyed what was left of the dill plants, they were very welcome to them, and one chrysalis is attached at this point to a stem. I will keep watching but, this is in an area subject to be tilled and if they over-winter now, I will remove them to a safe area. Anybody know?

Positive jillj97 On Mar 19, 2008, jillj97 from Loxahatchee, FL wrote:

My children and I LOVE these caterpillars! We look forward to the eggs that appear on our parsley plants about 4 times a year. We watch them grow daily (and watch our parsley and dill disappear quickly!) turn into crysalis' and then into beautiful butterflies. It is sad that as many caterpillars that we start out with (well over 50 this most recent time), that we have only counted 8 crysalis'. So far, we've seen 3 of them "hatch" and work up their wings to full size and fly away. The life cycle is amazing! What a gift to have these in our garden!

Positive aggscott On Apr 23, 2008, aggscott from Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a) wrote:

Easy and beautiful butterflies to raise. They will ususally find your dill or parsley or fennel real easy and leave a few gifts for you. If you take them in they are easy enough to raise. There is nothing like coming home to find one of these beauties has hatched, what a sight!

Loves the butterfly bush the most from what I've seen

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

Another swallowtail seen flying on May first- an early season?

Neutral Photog237 On Sep 9, 2008, Photog237 from Waynesboro, PA wrote:

We found three caterpillars on our parsley, which I relocated not knowing what they were. I have since had two more which I decided to leave on the parsley since we aren't eating any of it. No sense in letting it go to waste.

Positive SusanLouise On Jan 28, 2009, SusanLouise from Lincoln, NE
(Zone 5b) wrote:

My husband and I had a mini nursery for these last summer and raised 14 of them...what a joy!

Positive tabasco On Jun 29, 2009, tabasco from Cincinnati (Anderson Twp), OH
(Zone 6a) wrote:

One of the most common butterflies in our garden, and I suppose that's because we provide a variety of its host plants for ovipositing, including wild parsnip and garden herbs from the carrot family like fennel and dill. This year we added orlaya, a pretty white annual to the garden to see if the Black Swallowtails would use that member of the carrot family, too..

We did have some Queen Anne's Lace on our property as a host plant but we removed it because it is said to be invasive in our area. The wild parsnip is a pesty plant also, and we will remove it before it reseeds this season.

The BSTs often nectar on alfalfa, red clover, common milkweed, swamp milkweed, thistle, purple coneflower and other flowers.

One of the smallest swallowtails occuring here in Ohio, the combination of small size and the prominent yellow band on the upper wing makes the BST male easy to ID from other swallowtails. (p.14, Ohio DNR, "Common Butterflies & Skippers of Ohio)

Black Swallowtails are most common in our garden during July and August but can be found until October here.

Neutral Charilies2003 On Jul 25, 2009, Charilies2003 from Savannah, GA wrote:

I'm interested to know how destructive this is to citrus trees. I love butterflies, but want to know if I need to protect my citrus trees and how to do this, if necessary, without harming the butterflies. I have two in large pots in my yard. One is a Meyer Lemon Improved and the other is a Persian Lime. Does anyone have any info on this? I would appreciate any information on the caterpillars.

Neutral LOVIE2 On Aug 21, 2009, LOVIE2 from Boston, MA
(Zone 6a) wrote:

Oh my I feel terrible! I wish I knew that this was a Swallowtail before I killed it. It scared me 1/2 to death and I thought it was a hornworm I keep hearing about. I have tons of parsley, dill, carrots in my garden and that's exactly where I found it. I'm sure there's many more where that one came from. Next time I'll know better.

Positive deb7 On Feb 3, 2011, deb7 from Norristown, PA wrote:

In September 2010 I found a caterpillar on my roses, a windy day, I identified it as a black swallowtail, and indeed my parsley plants were totally devoured. I placed it in a small cage with twigs and parsley, which it ate and in a week a pupa had appeared, suspended by two fine threads on a twig. In January I began to wonder if it was still viable, since it had not emerged. On a the day of our biggest snow storm, I glanced at the cage and behold, there was a butterfly..a black swallowtail! I had prepared a cage of netting and embroidery hoops months before and was ready to nurture this little creature! It is about a week old, "she" has been named Perserpina, meaning "to emerge" by my college aged daughter. She is actively feeding on sugar water in a jar lid, with a paper towel soaked in solution I make. She climbs up the netting at night and enjoys sunning in the window during the day. Outside is ice and snow, and birds on the bird feeder. We hope she will survive till Spring when we can release her!

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