Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
The Spicebush Swallowtail is a species of average to large sized butterflies found several regions of North America in two local subspecies. They get the name Spicebush from their favorite host plant with the same name. These butterflies are best seen in flight between April and October.
Description and Identification
The larvae hatch out with an appearance initially resemble bird droppings as an adaptation for camouflage and fool the predators. Later, they transform themselves to mimic a snake with the help of their eyespots in the later instars.
The chrysalis hibernates over winter, and during this time, they are usually brown to mimic dead leaves. The pupae that form during the spring or the summer months are usually green, resembling the new foliage.
Sexual Dimorphism: Faintly present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of the primary wings is primarily black with dull white to ivory spots along the margin. The hindwings have orange spots on the costal margins, as also have scales that renders a bluish green sheen to the males and simply bluish to the females. When the wings are closed, the ventral side of the hindwings displays marginal spots in pale green coloration.
Average wingspan: 3 – 4 inches (7.5 – 10 cm)
Flight pattern: Low to the ground, with relaxed flops
Rounded, light-colored eggs, laid one at a time on the underside of the host plant’s leaves.
|Distribution||Primarily in the eastern regions from southern Canada to Florida; western Oklahoma and central Texas|
|Habitat||Yards, pine barrens, wooded swamps, deciduous woodlands, fields, roadsides, and parks|
|Lifespan of adults||2 to 14 days|
|Host plants||Spicebush, sassafras trees, prickly ash, tulip tree, sweetbay,camphor, and redbay|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
Unlike other species, these butterflies have a unique behavior of fluttering their wings even during feeding.