Currently viewing the category: "swallowtails"
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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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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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.

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Subject: Giant Swallowtail?
Location: Coryell County, Texas
August 31, 2014 9:18 pm
Hello,
This gorgeous creature visited our Vincas while we were gardening today. Is it a Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes? Today was hot and sunny, mid 90’s.
Thank you!
Signature: Ellen

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

Hi Ellen,
You are correct that this is a Giant Swallowtail, and we see that you also submitted some images of a Giant Swallowtail in spring 2013.  About seven years ago, we started to notice Giant Swallowtails nectaring on lantana in our garden.  We planted some citrus trees around that time, and this year we have noticed a Giant Swallowtail very interested in the Grapfruit Tree, so we expect if we searched carefully, we might locate some Orange Dogs.

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Is this a Giant Swallowtail?
Location: Fullerton (Orange County) CA
July 31, 2014 8:20 am
Hello;
Here is a better photo of our overnight visitor. It landed on the night blooming jasmine at dusk yesterday and settled in for the night. To my surprise it is still there as of 8 a.m. It is quite large, at about 4″ across, warm black with striking yellow markings. When viewing from the kitchen window slightly above, there is a thin edge of yellow showing on the ‘shoulders’ so that it presents as a heart. It’s beautiful. Thank you for your wonderful website.
Signature: Likes Bugs

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

Dear Likes Bugs,
You are correct that this is a Giant Swallowtail, a relatively recent resident of Southern California.  The Giant Swallowtail is native to the eastern portion of North America, but the caterpillars, known as Orange Dogs, adapted to feeding on the leaves of orange and other citrus trees, and as the cultivation of citrus spread west, the range of the Giant Swallowtail followed.  We believe they first appeared in Los Angeles in the 1990s.  According to the Los Angeles Times:  “The giant swallowtail butterfly,
Heraclides (Papilio) cresphontes, is native to the Southeast. Since the 1960s, populations have spread west following a corridor of suburban development and the species’ favorite larval food source — citrus — through Arizona, into the Imperial Valley, then San Diego and north to Orange and Los Angeles counties. They’ve been sighted as far north as Santa Barbara and Bakersfield.  Numbers have surged since 2000, says Jess Morton, president of the Palos Verdes-South Bay chapter of the Audubon Society. Members have held a butterfly count at the same location, on the first Sunday in July, every year since 1991. According to their records, a single giant swallowtail was first seen in the South Bay in 2000. They counted 23 in 2007.”  According to the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects:  “Ranges throughout most of the east;  more limited distribution in the southwest, but has expanded into the Los Angeles basin within the past 20 years.”

Thank you so much Daniel. We have two tangerine trees, a lemon, a grapefruit, a valencia orange, and two washington navel oranges on our 8,500 sf lot. So yes, there is lots of citrus here for the larvae.
I found it so interesting that it settled on the leaves, spread it’s wings and went to sleep. It took off when the sun hit it at about 9a this morning. It is the first of that kind I’ve seen here (northern inland hilly Orange County – warmer than the coast.)
The Monarchs on the other hand, are plentiful. We have many milkweed plants for them and they put on a show – photo attached.
Thank you again for your help!
Nancy Rennie

Monarch

Monarch

Hi again Nancy,
It is our observation that Monarchs seem more plentiful this year than they have in recent years.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination