Anise Swallowtail(Papilio zelicaon)
The Anise Swallowtail is a species of North American ‘swallowtail’ type of butterfly that is known for its bright yellow/beige coloration, matched with the patterned wings. They are abundantly found throughout their geographic range and have been marked as Secure (‘G5’) by NatureServe.
Description and Identification
The larva has five instars. When completely matured, it is mostly green, with black, orange, and light blue markings. The insect feeds on the leaves of its host plant. If disturbed, they would emit a foul-smelling, orange fluid as a tactic for defense. It can grow up to 5 cm in length.
The Chrysalis is light brown to green, and hangs from a branch or stem of its host, resembling yet another small branch protruding out of the stem. The pupa is held to the branch of the host plant using durable silk.
Sexual Dimorphism: No noticeable differences.
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal surface forewing is primarily yellow having black bands along the edges, similar to the hind wings. The secondary wings display yellowish orange to red eyespots close to the tails, with a black pupil in each eye. The anal cell of the secondary wing is predominantly yellow. When the wings are closed, both wings look almost identical on the ventral side, except that the colors and patterns are a bit faint.
Average wingspan: 52 to 80 mm (2.0 to 3.1 in)
Flight pattern: Slow, yet erratic
Small, round and yellow in color, laid one at a time
|Distribution||Entire western parts of North America|
|Habitat||Bare hills and mountains, humanmade gardens, vacant fields and lots, as well as roadsides|
|Lifespan of adults||6 to 14 days|
|Host plants||Plants from the carrot, Apiaceae, parsley and citrus families|
|Adult diet||Not known|
Did You Know?
- The butterfly is very often mistaken for another species, the tiger swallowtail. The primary difference, however, is that, the ‘anise’ is smaller in size than the other one. Also, the ‘tiger’ has the vertical black striping patterns, unlike the ‘anise’.