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Schaus Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus)

Schaus Swallowtail

The Schaus Swallowtail is a species of medium-size butterflies found in a very limited area in the United States. Often confused for the giant swallowtail butterfly (which is much larger than them), the population of this arthropod is declining rapidly, with the NatureServe conservation status system enlisting them under their At risk – G3 group.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Common names: Schaus' Swallowtail, Island Swallowtail
  • Scientific Name: Papilio aristodemus

Description and Identification


Schaus Swallowtail Caterpillar tumblr.com

The full-grown caterpillars are dark to chocolate brown with yellow and cream lateral marks and patches. There is also a continuous white patch at the posterior end along with a few longitudinal rows of spots in blue. As an adaptation, the patches resemble the droppings of lizards and birds, which is a kind of camouflage to avoid the eyes of the predators.


Schaus Swallowtail Pupa joelsartore.com

The pupae are also brown with patterns that resemble a bark. During this stage, a pupa stays attached and hanging from a twig or branch with the help of a silken pad.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Vaguely present

Color and Appearance: The sexes look similar except that, the tiny tips of the antennae in the male are yellow. Also, the males are smaller than the females. When the wings are open, their dorsal sides look brown, decorated with a series of yellow submarginal spots and a broad yellow median band. Tails are present in the secondary wings having yellow outlines. When the wings are closed, the undersides look yellow with marks in brown marked with a wide median band in rust and blue.

Female Schaus Swallowtail nps.gov

Male Schaus Swallowtail cbsnews3.cbsistatic.com

Average wingspan: 3¼ by 3¾ inches (82 by 95 mm)

Flight pattern: Medium


Schaus Swallowtail Eggs entnemdept.ufl.edu

Light to dark green in color and are spherical. They are laid singly both on top and underneath the leaf surfaces.

Quick Facts

Distribution Southern parts of Florida with subspecies occurring in Hispaniola, Cuba, and the Bahamas
Habitat In the hardwood hammocks where there is no direct sunlight (but instead forms a dappling effect)
Lifespan of adults 1 month
Host plants Plants belonging to the citrus family (Rutaceae) including Citrus species, hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata), Zanthoxylum spp., and torchwood (Amyris elemifera)
Adult diet Nectar from flowers of guava, wild coffee, and cheese-shrub

Did You Know?

  • The males are highly territorial and keep their area free from other males while chasing the females during the mating season at the height of up to 10 feet.
  • The arthropod gets its name in honor of the American etymologist William Schaus.

Papilio aristodemus bugguide.net

Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly pbs.twimg.com

Schaus Swallowtail Host Plant fws.gov

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Common names: Schaus' Swallowtail, Island Swallowtail
  • Scientific Name: Papilio aristodemus
Published by Avatar on September 23, 2018.
Last Updated: December 28, 2022. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team