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Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)


Spicebush Swallowtail

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.

Scientific Classification

Description and Identification


Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
Spicebush Swallowtail Larvae

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.


Spicebush Swallowtail Chrysalis

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.

Adult Butterfly

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.

Papilio Troilus
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

Average wingspan: 3 – 4 inches (7.5 – 10 cm)

Flight pattern: Low to the ground, with relaxed flops


Spicebush Swallowtail Eggs

Rounded, light-colored eggs, laid one at a time on the underside of the host plant’s leaves.

Quick Facts

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.

Swallowtail Spicebush
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly Images
Spicebush Swallowtail Pictures
Spicebush Swallowtail Female
Spicebush Swallowtail Male

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