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Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Pipevine Swallowtail

The Pipevine Swallowtail is a species of iridescent blue butterflies found in several parts of the Americas. They are mostly seen during the spring and the summer months in sunlit meadows and fields. Some species use the pipevine swallowtail as a template for mimicry.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Battus
  • Common names: Blue swallowtail
  • Scientific Name: Battus philenor


Description and Identification


Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

The mature larva can be solid black with two rows of yellow dots or bright red and have sting- or spine-like growths all over the body. They live on plants species belonging to the genus Aristolochia. As a defensive adaptation, they draw aristolochic acid from the food plants they consume in order to protect themselves from predators by being poisonous when consumed by the latter. This stage lasts for 3 to 4 weeks.


Pipevine Swallowtail Cocoon
Pipevine Swallowtail Pupa

The chrysalis is light brown with darker vein-like markings all over the body. By evolution, they have developed a look similar to dead leaves that help them camouflage easily from their enemies while staying attached to a silk thread hanging from the branch of their host plants. The cocoon stage lasts for around 10 to 20 days, depending on the weather conditions.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Not prominently visible

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal surface of the hindwings display an iridescent blue or blue-green hue, which is more prominent in males than in females. There is also a row of white spots parallel to the border of the tailed hindwings. When the wings are closed, the ventral side of the hindwings shows a submarginal row of seven circular orange spots in an iridescent blue field highlighted with white.

Pipevine Swallowtail Male
Pipevine Swallowtail Female

Average wingspan: 7 to 13 cm

Flight pattern: Slow and erratic


Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs

Red or orange in color, with vertical stripes along the outside and laid in clusters

Quick Facts

Distribution Ranges in the northern parts of both the Americas, as also, in Canada, and south to southern Mexico
Habitat Mostly in open grasslands, woodlands, meadows, and backyard gardens
Lifespan of adults 6 to 14 days
Host plants In Central America: Passionflower species Passiflora oerstedii and Passiflora menispermifolia Elsewhere: Various passion flower species
Adult diet Only flower nectar especially from Cirsium (thistle), Phlox, and Vernonia species

Did You Know?

  • The butterfly has an affinity for pink and purple flowers.
  • During mating or courtship, the males sometimes use sodium that they withdraw from mud as a nuptial gift.
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly Pictures
Battus Philenor

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Battus
  • Common names: Blue swallowtail
  • Scientific Name: Battus philenor
Published by Avatar on July 23, 2019.
Last Updated: January 9, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team