Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nature Notes: Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Female Pipevine Swallowtail  (Photo: Marvin Smith on 11/03/09)

In the East and California, Pipevine Swallowtails (Battus philenor) are seen mainly in the spring and summer. However, here here in the South they are more common in late summer and fall. In Mexico they fly year round.

Adult B. philenor nectar from a wide variety of flowers and are usually found in open fields or open spaces bordering woodlands. The female in the photo above was nectaring from the zinnias that brighten our vegetable garden.

Male Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
(Photo: Sturgis McKeever, Georgia Southern University,

The inner hindwings on male Pipevine Swallowtails are more iridescent than those on females. B. philenor mimics several other butterflies including Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (female, dark phase), Black Swallowtail (female), Spicebush Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple and Diana Fritillary. BugGuide provides comparison images that help differentiate between these butterflies.

Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar
(Photo: Sturgis McKeever, Georgia Southern University,

Larvae/caterpillars feed on Aristolochia species. Larvae presumably take up toxic secondary compounds from their hostplant. Both larvae and adults are believed toxic to vertebrate predators, and both have aposematic (warning) coloration. (BugGuide)

Pipevine Swallowtail chrysalis
(Photo: Sturgis McKeever, Georgia Southern University,

In temperate regions, Pipevine Swallowtails overwinter as pupae (in a chrysalis). In mid-season, the butterfly spends about two weeks in this pupal stage.



Lisa at Greenbow said...

Such a good Pipvine tutorial here Marvin. Love the photo of the bats on your sidebar too. They are such cute little fellows. I have rarely seen them this close.

Anonymous said...

You read my mind. I was reading along and saw that you have the label 'female' and I asked 'how do you know?' and you told and showed me. Wonderful teaching..I bought two butterfly guides to help me in my travels around the pond and woods. But they aren't always the most cooperative subjects. Wonderful post for Nature Notes... Michelle

Caron said...

Great informaiton!

moosh said...

Nice shots of the butterfly. T.hanks for the information

Gel said...

Your blog is full of great photos- these closeup here and I took a gander at your sidebar! Thx for the info, too.

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a beautiful butterfly, thanks for telling us about it...

Pat - Arkansas said...

That's a wonderful photo of the butterfly on your zinnias, Marvin, and an excellent overall tutorial on the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. Thanks, also, for sharing the other photos; I can't remember ever before seeing a Pipevine chrysallis. I'm passing on a link to your site to Gardening Daughter, who is a bit of a butterfly nut, but not yet as knowledgeable as you.

Stine in Ontario said...

I've never seen a pipevine swallowtail before so I just checked to see if they can be found in Ontario. Well, yes, but they are rare. Great post!