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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.

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Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Palamedes Swallowtail Caterpillar
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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.

Scientific Classification

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

Pupa

Palamedes Swallowtail Chrysalis
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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
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Papilio palamedes
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Average wingspan: 4½ to 5⅛ inches (11 to 13 cm)

Flight pattern: Moderate and haphazard

Eggs

Palamedes Swallowtail Eggs
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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
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Palamedes Swallowtail Host Plant
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Male Palamedes Swallowtail
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