unknown black butterfly
October 21, 2009
Thank you for the identification of the Red headed meadow katydid! It is appreciated. My father took this photo Somewhere in southern Alabama or Mississippi and I could not find this particular black swallowtail. Could you help us out please?
South Alabama bug guy
Dear South Alabama bug guy,
In attempting to answer your question, we stumbled upon a wonderful website, Butterflies of America, that has Papilio thumbnails, as well as the entire family Papilionidae. We could not locate your specimen, and we can’t help but wonder if your father photographed this Swallowtail at a butterfly habitat, or if it is an exotic escapee from a butterfly habitat.
This looks like a Common Mormon (Papilio polytes). It is an Australasian species, particularly common in Southeast Asia, so I expect that you were correct in assuming it was likely an escapee if it was shot in the wild. It is likely a male; the females are mimics of other swallowtails and tend to be variable and more colorful. Regards.
It turns out the common mormon was indeed taken in a butterfly house in Columbus GA… It was with other pics that weren’t. I didn’t think to ask because I didn’t know it was an exotic. But thanks for the info. I really love your website!