Black Swallowtail

Black swallowtail butterfly is an awe-inspiringly beautiful species of butterfly. It finds similarities with a few more species but this beauty can be traced correctly with a few special marks on it. it is also known as Eastern black swallowtail, Parsnip swallowtail and American swallowtail butterfly. This species is as interesting character wise as it looks. Find out all about this magnificent creature below.

Scientific Classification

Papilio polyxenes

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Papilio polyxenes


Color : Males of this species have bold and bright yellow spot row on them. Females have much faded and milder yellow spots on them. Their best identification feature is black spots centered inside an orange colored circle. This orange circle could be found on the underneath edge of the rear wings.

Black Swallowtail Picture

Picture 1 – Black Swallowtail

Wingspan : Its wingspan can extend up to 4 ½ inches.


These butterflies are fun to observe. Find all about their behavioral characteristics below.

  • They are the humble-most creatures on earth.
  • They diet on leaves in their caterpillar stage and on flower nectar in full grown butterfly stage.
  • They imitate another species of butterfly in order to trick away their predators.


Black swallowtail butterflies diet on flower nectar. In their caterpillar stage they diet on carrots, parsley, fennel and dill.


These butterflies are found mostly in North America in eastern side of Rocky Mountains. The range extends till northern end of South America. It is also found in Australia.


These butterflies fly around roadsides, suburban, meadows and fields.


Most common predators of Black swallowtail butterfly are insects, spiders, and small birds.


Black swallowtail butterfly is as humble as any other species of butterflies. They have very few adaptive features to sustain in the world defending themselves from all their predators.

  • This butterfly sometimes imitates another species called the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Usual predators of Black swallowtail find the Pipevine distasteful. Thus by imitating them the Black swallowtails get away from their predators.
  • Caterpillars of the Black swallowtail butterflies swallow some oils of the plants they feed on the nectars from. The flavors of these oils repel the birds and the caterpillars are saved from being preyed.
  • Caterpillar state of this butterfly is either green or brown. The color helps them to camouflage with the leaves and twigs of plants saving them escape being seen by their predators.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

Black swallowtail butterfly is a marvelous creature passing through different stages of life it reaches the most beautiful stage at adulthood. Adulthood is the most amazing state of butterflies, making the look awe-inspiring and epitomizing beauty in Earthly terms. Know about the different stages of this wonderful creature below.

Pictures of Black Swallowtail
Picture 2 – Black Swallowtail Picture

  • Egg à Female butterflies lay eggs after mating. These eggs hatch after 3-5days of gestation period.
  • Larva or Caterpillar à The next stage of growth is called caterpillar. In this state they start eating and growing. This stage has 5 instars.
  • Pupa or Chrysalis à After eating quite some amount and growing to its full length, the caterpillar finds a safe place to sleep inside a cocoon and metamorphose into a chrysalis. This is the last stage of the insect before budding fully into a butterfly. They sleep inside the cocoon for about 10-14days or sometimes over the winter.
  • Butterfly à After the chrysalis stage of about a fortnight the caterpillar emerges into a full grown beautiful and colorful butterfly.

Life Span

Mostly these butterflies have a life span of a fortnight. The life span might vary, but more or less it is the same.

Similar Species

There are many similar species of this kind of butterfly. Namely Old world swallowtail butterfly, Pipevine swallowtail butterfly, Spicebush swallowtail butterfly, Short-tailed swallowtail butterfly and White admiral butterfly.


Petting Black swallowtail butterfly is very easy as caring them is completely hassle free. Observing this butterfly to grow and metamorphose is fun and educative.

  • Housing : Get their preferred host plant. Put the larva or caterpillar on that plant. Put a soft net cover on the plant after placing the caterpillar on it. The plant should be pesticide free, else wash the plant before placing the caterpillar on it.
  • Feeding : The caterpillar will feed on the host plant and grow in its natural way.
  • Caring : Just take care that the plant on which the Black swallowtail caterpillar is kept should be hanged somewhere. If the plant is kept on a bass then the caterpillar might crawl away from it. The hanging rope or chain should be strong enough.

Conservation Status

This species of butterfly does not initiate a concern about their existence. They come under Least Concern category.

Interesting Facts

Note some very interesting facts about this gorgeous species of butterfly.

  • They replicate another species of butterflies that their predators repel to save themselves from being preyed.
  • They are often confused with Giant swallowtail or Pipevine swallowtail butterflies, but can be identified correctly by some spots inside the big orange circle in the underneath sides of their wings.


Find out below how this beautiful species of butterfly looks.

Images of Black Swallowtail
Picture 3 – Black Swallowtail Image

Photos of Black Swallowtail
Picture 4 – Black Swallowtail Photo

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