Currently viewing the category: "swallowtails"
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Subject: Likely swallowtail butterfly
Location: Texas? Unknown
July 20, 2015 5:01 pm
Hello!
My niece recently asked me about a specimen she was given by another family who likely collected it in Texas or Arkansas. It looks like a swallowtail, but the double row along the wing margins (especially clear on hind wings) has me stumped. Thought maybe a dark form, but I am totally in the dark!
Signature: Puzzled Auntie

Red Spotted Purple

Red Spotted Purple

Dear Puzzled Auntie,
Your confusion is understandable.  The lovely Red Spotted Purple is thought to mimic the presumably distasteful Pipevine Swallowtail for protection.

Jessica M. Schemm, J Amber Z Vartorella, Mary Lemmink Lawrence, Kim Estes, Mary Sheridan Page Fatzinger liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Insect I.D.
Location: Southern Utah
March 31, 2015 12:38 pm
Cocoon found under lid of unused garbage can…..I carefully protected and waited to see what came out. Cocoon was gray/black and I expected a moth with little color. What a surprise! Appears to be big Swallowtail Moth, 4-5 inches tip to tip. I can’t find anything exactly like it searching the Web.
I don’t know if this critter is kind of rare down here – Ivins, Utah.
Signature: Kent P.

Two Tailed Swallowtail

Two Tailed Swallowtail

Hi Kent,
This Two Tailed Swallowtail,
Papilio multicaudatus, is a butterfly, not a moth.  According to the Utah Bug Club:  “Two Tailed Swallowtail butterflies are large and gorgeous and can occasioanlly be found patrolling neighborhoods that have ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) growing along the street. These same ash trees serve as the larval host plant for this butterfly. Adults appear on the wing from mid-May through July with a few fresh adults appearing for a small second flight in September. Although finding adults of the Two-Tailed Swallowtail is somewhat inconsistent in our cities, males can usually be found with much more regularity cruising our canyons and ravines in May and June. Caterpillars can be found on choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) from June through August in the mountains.”  BugGuide provides this information:  “Trivia: This is probably the largest species of Butterfly in North America, with spread specimens sometimes pushing 6 inches in wingspan. However, the Giant Swallowtail – Papilio cresphontes (which definitely averages smaller) is consistently listed as the largest species, and indeed some females of that species can reach very large proportions as well. Occasionally nearly as large is also the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus. So, on an average, everyday basis, P. multicaudatus is largest, but as for the largest specimen recorded, it is probably an open contest.”  By all accounts, this is a early sighting.

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Subject: Butterfly Identification
Location: Costa Rica cloud forest, elevation approx. 5500 feet.
March 15, 2015 7:30 pm
Any thoughts on what butterfly this might be? At first, I thought it was a Heliconius pachinus but the pinkish markings on the wings don’t seem to be consistent with that species.
Signature: Jackie C.

Ruby Spotted Swallowtail

Cattleheart Swallowtail

Dear Jackie,
This is actually one of the Swallowtail Butterflies, probably a Ruby Spotted Swallowtail,
Papilio anchisiades.  According to Keith Wolfe who often responds to caterpillar identification queries we receive:  “This abundant and widespread swallowtail is commonly found in areas disturbed by human activities.”  We are surmising that your sighting might be associated with an eco-tourism trip.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for the identification help.   I’ve been coming across all kinds of new creatures since moving from the US to Costa Rica and some are quite challenging to identify!   Thanks for doing what you do… and love your website!
Have a great rest of the day!
Jackie

Correction:  Thanks to Richard Stickney of LifeandScience.org for providing us with the correct identification of this Cattleheart Swallowtail in the genus Parides.

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Subject: Furry Western Tiger Swallowtail
Location: Red Car Property, Silver Lake (Los Angeles)
March 9, 2015 12:28 am
Hi Daniel,
As you may have heard, we’re having a butterfly bonanza in Silver Lake this year. Today’s question is more about function than ID. Why do the Western Tiger Swallowtails have so much fur? It would seem not so aerodynamic . Photo attached was taken on the Red Car Property March 5, 2015. It was supper furry, as was the one I the week before in my backyard:
http://redcarproperty.blogspot.com/2015/02/corralitas-drive-western-tiger.html
Both seemed to be sunning themselves in the morning sun on very warm days on broad leafed, non-native plants (wild geranium & nasturtium).
Signature: Diane E

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Good Morning Diane,
The physical feature of “fur” on butterflies is not confined to Swallowtails, but since Swallowtails are so large, it is more easily noticed.  Alas, we don’t know why this trait has developed, nor do we know what purpose it serves.  We will post your image and hope one of our readers is able to enlighten us.

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Subject: Butterfly in Ann Arbor, MI
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
September 21, 2014 10:52 am
Hello,
I took these pictures on my phone in August at the Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, MI. I just moved to the area so I’m not yet familiar with its wildlife. I have seen lots of black swallowtail caterpillars and butterflies this August and September but I’m not sure if this butterfly is one as well. It doesn’t seem to have the blues, yellows or reds… and it has a band of that white-ish yellow color across its hindwing that I haven’t seen before.
It may have a swallowtail wing shape – I can’t tell. But something interesting about its wings is that it seemed to fold the forewing somewhat independently of the hindwing. I tried to include a picture showing that, but it was hard to catch.
Thank you!
Signature: Butterfly Observer

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

Dear Butterfly Observer,
The Giant Swallowtail, a native species, has adapted as a caterpillar, called an Orange Dog, to eating the leaves of imported and cultivated citrus trees, and its range has expanded where citrus is grown.  Consequently, it is now more common in the southern portion of its range including Florida, and the expanded western regions all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
  We imagine your Michigan sighting is not a common occurrence.

Wow!!! I’ve heard the name Giant Swallowtail before but I didn’t even know what they look like and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. How exciting! I’m glad I asked you guys. I really love your site- thanks for the work you do!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Transparent-winged butterfly
Location: Mt. Bross 12,000ft elev.
September 7, 2014 12:27 pm
I shot this butterfly on Sept 6, 2014 on Mt. Bross in Park County, colorado at an elevation of about 12,000 ft. I think it’s a Rocky Mtn. Parnassus or maybe a Checkered White. Its wings were mostly clear and it appeared to have no trouble flying around for half an hour before i finally got a few shots if it resting. I’ve never seen a clear-winged butterfly before, do you think it’s a mutation or is it possible that the color somehow got washed off in all the rain we’ve been having this summer.
Signature: Bob

Rocky Mountain Parnassus

Rocky Mountain Parnassus

Hi Bob,
We agree that this is a Rocky Mountain Parnassian,
Parnassius phoebus, a species which Jeffrey Glassberg, in his book Butterflies Through Binoculars The West, calls the Phoebus Parnassian, though he acknowledges it has several subspecies including Parnassius phoebus smintheus.  According to BugGuide, the Rocky Mountain Parnassian is Parnassius smintheus, and BugGuide provides the following information:  “Antenna has alternate black and white rings. Upperside of forewing of females and most males with 2 red or yellow spots beyond the cell. In some males these spots are black.(1)  Often called by the name Parnassius phoebus, a closely related Eurasian species. Many people consider all North American populations to belong to that species, many prefer to separate them. Some authors split North American populations into more than one species; usually two or three, with the northernmost populations included in P. phoebus, and the rest in P. smintheus; or, the Sierra Nevada populations may be separated as Parnassius behrii. These regional ‘species’ are best distinguished by where they are found.”  Isolated populations often exhibit localized variations, so individuals on one mountain may look different from individuals on the next mountain.  Regarding the transparency, we believe this is a result of the loss of scales that might be a natural occurrence in the species as BugGuide includes many images of more transparent individuals.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination