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Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes)


Palamedes Swallowtail

The Palamedes Swallowtail is a well-known butterfly, amember of the swallowtail group. These black butterflies are fond of swamp areas and are best viewed between May and October.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Common names: Laurel swallowtail
  • Scientific Name: Papilio palamedes

Description and Identification


Palamedes Swallowtail Caterpillar

The mature larva has a very bizarre pattern. The dorsal side is completely green, with very light pairs of tiny gray circles, and the ventral side being reddish tan. The head is enlarged with two distinct false eye marks, with black centers, resembling eyeballs. There are also two oval marks on top of the head in yellow. This gives them a serpentine look for the purpose of scaring away the predators.


Palamedes Swallowtail Chrysalis

The chrysalis is green in color with a whitish lateral stripe with its edges marked in brown above. The pupa also bears two horns atop the head. They emerge as butterflies in early April.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Not visibly present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, both the male and the female display their dorsal side of hind- and forewings having postmedian bands in bright yellow, while the tails at the base of the wings are also filled with a yellow hue. When the wings are closed, the ventral side of the hindwing show a thin yellow stripe along the base, as well as a postmedian band crescents in yellowishorange.

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly
Papilio palamedes

Average wingspan: 4½ to 5⅛ inches (11 to 13 cm)

Flight pattern: Moderate and haphazard


Palamedes Swallowtail Eggs

Light colored eggs laid on the leaves of the host plant

Quick Facts

Distribution Along the coast of the Atlantic ocean, ranging from the southern part of New Jersey to Florida; also, to the western and the southern parts of the Gulf Coast to central Mexico
Habitat Wet woods close to rivers and lakes, as well as broadleaf evergreen swamp forests
Lifespan of adults Almost 14 days
Host plants Plants belonging to the Laurel (Lauraceae) family, mostly redbay (Persea borbonia)
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • In Mexico, the butterfly is represented by the subspecies P. p. leontis.
Female Palamedes Swallowtail
alamedes Swallowtail Host Plant
Male Palamedes Swallowtail

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Common names: Laurel swallowtail
  • Scientific Name: Papilio palamedes
Published by Avatar on December 30, 2018.
Last Updated: December 19, 2022. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team