The world of butterflies is filled with incredible diversity in colors, shapes, and sizes. One fascinating example is the black butterfly with blue and yellow spots, a stunning combination of hues that catches the eye of many nature enthusiasts.
This captivating insect not only boasts a brilliant appearance but also plays an essential role in pollination and maintaining ecosystems’ health.
These particular butterflies, often adorned with striking blue and yellow patterns on their dark wings, can be found in various habitats, such as gardens, parks, and forests.
Examples include the Pipevine Swallowtail and the Eastern Black Swallowtail. Due to their visual appeal, they draw attention from hobbyists, photographers, and scientists alike, who study and document their unique characteristics.
Overview of the Black Butterfly with Blue and Yellow Spots
Species and Characteristics
The black butterfly with blue and yellow spots can be found in various species such as Swallowtails, which are known for their distinct stripes and spots.
Additionally, some of these butterflies may also belong to families like Lycaenidae, which include Blues and Hairstreaks with differing colors and patterns between sexes.
Wingspan and Size
These black butterflies can vary in size, with wingspans ranging from small to medium. To provide context, Swallowtail butterflies exhibit wingspans of about 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 cm).
Color and Pattern
The primary colors of this butterfly are black, blue, and yellow. These colors form an intricate pattern of spots and stripes on the dorsal (upper) and ventral (lower) sides of the wings.
The specific arrangement of these colors varies among species. Some features of their coloration include:
- Black wings as a base color
- Yellow, red, and blue markings on the wings
- White or yellow stripes on certain species
Sexual dimorphism, where males and females exhibit distinct physical differences, is common in the Lycaenidae family of butterflies.
These differences often appear in the form of colors and patterns on the wings.
|Brighter colors||Duller colors|
|Bolder patterns||Less pronounced patterns|
Overall, these black butterflies with blue and yellow spots display a fascinating array of species, sizes, and patterns. Their unique and eye-catching coloration is a beautiful sight in the butterfly world.
Life Cycle and Development
- Shape: Black Swallowtail butterfly eggs are typically round. This is true for many butterflies.
- Color: Black Swallowtail eggs are usually yellowish-white.
- Duration: The egg stage for the Black Swallowtail lasts about 4-9 days.
- Features: Black Swallowtail caterpillars start off mostly black with a white saddle in the middle, and as they grow, they become green with black bands and yellow spots. They do not have hairs but do have spines.
- Osmeterium: When threatened, Black Swallowtail caterpillars can extend a Y-shaped, orange or red organ called the osmeterium that releases a foul-smelling secretion.
- Diet: The caterpillars primarily eat the leaves of plants in the carrot family, including dill, parsley, and fennel.
- Form: The pupa, or chrysalis, is where the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis.
- Color: The chrysalis of the Black Swallowtail can be green or brown, depending on its surroundings and where it pupates.
- Duration: The pupal stage for the Black Swallowtail can last from 10 days to 2 weeks under summer conditions, but if they go into diapause (a form of hibernation), it can last through the winter.
- Wings: Adult Black Swallowtails have black wings with yellow and blue markings. Females may also have an iridescent blue band on their hindwings, while males may have more yellow.
- Feeding: Adult butterflies, including the Black Swallowtail, feed on nectar from flowers using their proboscis.
- Reproduction: The primary purpose of the adult stage is reproduction.
Once the transformation is complete, the adult butterfly emerges from the pupa and begins searching for a mate.
After mating, the cycle begins anew with the female laying eggs on a suitable host plant.
Habitat and Distribution
Host Plants and Feeding
Caterpillar Host Plants
Caterpillars of black butterflies with blue and yellow spots thrive on specific host plants. These plants are typically found among the carrot family. A few examples include:
These plants provide caterpillars with the necessary nutrients and protection to grow and develop. Introducing these plants in your garden can attract such butterflies and support their life cycle.
Adult Butterflies’ Nectar Sources
Adult black butterflies with blue and yellow spots feed primarily on nectar from flowers.
When planning a butterfly garden, it’s essential to include a variety of flowering plants that provide nectar throughout the season.
Some suitable flowers for these butterflies are:
- Butterfly bush
To maximize the appeal of your garden to these butterflies, consider the following features:
- Plant flowers in sunny areas
- Use a mix of colors and flower shapes
- Choose native plants when possible
- Provide shelter from harsh winds
Here’s a quick comparison of two popular host plants for catering to the black butterfly with blue and yellow spots:
|Parsley||Attracts various butterfly species, easy to grow||Requires regular pruning|
|Dill||Drought-tolerant, low maintenance, attracts pollinators||May reseed aggressively|
Predators and Defense Mechanisms
Camouflage and Warning Marks
Black swallowtail butterflies have developed various strategies to protect themselves from predators. One such strategy is camouflage.
These butterflies possess marks and stripes that help them blend in with their environment. Their predominantly dark bodies make it difficult for predators to spot them on tree bark or soil.
Additionally, their vibrant blue and yellow spots may serve as warning marks to ward off potential threats, indicating that they might be poisonous or unpalatable to predators.
Unique Defensive Features
Along with camouflage and warning marks, black butterflies with blue and yellow spots exhibit other unique defensive features:
- Tan and brown colors: These colors help the butterfly blend in with their surroundings, especially when resting on dead leaves or branches.
- Gland secretion: Some butterflies have a specialized gland that produces a foul-smelling or distasteful substance, deterring predators from consuming them.
- Mimicry of veins: These butterflies may have wing patterns that resemble the veins of leaves, further enhancing their camouflage.
Comparison Table: Camouflage vs. Warning Marks
|Purpose||Hide from predators||Deter predators|
|Color examples||Tan, brown||Blue, yellow|
|On the body||Marks, stripes||Spots|
|Effectiveness||Depends on environment||Depends on predator|
Notable Black Butterflies with Blue and Yellow Spots
The Pipevine Swallowtail is a black butterfly with beautiful blue markings, mainly on its hind wings. Its caterpillars feed on pipevine plants, giving the butterfly its name.
- Found in many US states
- Blue markings on hind wings
The Black Swallowtail, or Eastern Black Swallowtail, is a member of the Papilionidae family. They are black with yellow spots on their wings and have two tails.
- Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
- Black with yellow spots on wings
Spicebush Swallowtail is another black butterfly with blue and green markings on its hind wings. They get their name from their host plant, the Spicebush plant.
- Blue and green markings on hind wings
- Feeds on Spicebush plant
Other Similar Species
There are other black butterflies with blue and yellow spots, such as the Tiger Swallowtail species. Some examples include:
- Palamedes Swallowtail
- Two-tailed Swallowtail
- Western Tiger Swallowtail
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
These butterflies are all similar in appearance and may be found in states such as North Carolina and Georgia.
|Species||Main Color||Markings||Tails||Notable Features|
|Pipevine Swallowtail||Black||Blue||No||Hind wing markings|
|Black Swallowtail (Eastern)||Black||Yellow||Yes||Two tails|
|Spicebush Swallowtail||Black||Blue, Green||No||Blue and green hind wing markings|
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail||Black||Yellow||Yes||Large yellow spots on wings|
Make sure to observe these beautiful butterflies in their natural habitat, and appreciate their striking colors and unique markings.
In conclusion, the Black Swallowtail Butterfly stands as a testament to nature’s captivating beauty, with its striking black hue complemented by mesmerizing blue and yellow spots.
As one delves into its life cycle, habitat, and behaviors, it becomes evident that this butterfly is not just a visual delight but also an integral part of our ecosystem. Its presence reminds us of the intricate wonders that nature holds
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Alpine Black Swallowtail from South Korea
Subject: Butterfly name
Geographic location of the bug: South Korea, Gongju city
Time: 05:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I know this very big and beautiful butterfly at Yeonmi mountain, Gongju city in South Korea. I was very surprised to see this as most butterflies are far far smaller.
I’d like to know what kind this is. Does it belong to the swallowtail species?
Thanks a lot.
How you want your letter signed: Paul
This is a gorgeous Swallowtail Butterfly. At first we thought we identified it as Papilio bianor because of an image on Butterfly Planet, but other images of that species we located online look different.
We believe your individual is the Alpine Black Swallowtail, Papilio maackii, based on this Darwin Sect image and postings on iNaturalist where it states: “the alpine black swallowtail, is a butterfly of the family Papilionidae.
It is found in Central Asia, Japan, China and South Korea.” There are images and more information on Butterfly Corner.
Wonderful, thanks a lot for the information. I’ll have to keep my
eyes peeled next time I go walking in that place.
Letter 2 – Another Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
I used your site to identify this little guy. Thought you might like this for your collection…. was taken in Shavertown, Pennsylvania You can also check out my flickr site… were I have other bug pics there. if you want any for your site…. let me know.
Though we just posted another photo of a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, we couldn’t resist posting yours as well since it is so gorgeous, detailed and surreal.
Letter 3 – Parsley Worms on Parsley
Location: Omaha Nebraska
July 21, 2013 2:34 pm
I wrote yesterday about the black colored swallowtail a while ago that visited my parsley. Today I am noticing a few of these little guys munching it. I didn’t think it would be the offspring of that butterfly considering it didn’t stay for more than a moment.
I don’t mind too much, as we don’t use very much of the parsley, but I would like to know what it is going to be and what else it usually munches. I have already had cabbage loopers that I had to remove from my broccoli, but unlike those, these are very brightly colored and still very tiny.
They’re near where my fingers are in the image, I couldn’t get my camera to focus on them any closer.
We wrote back to you about your Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, and that the larval food plants are in the umbel family including Parsley and that the female Black Swallowtail in your photo was in the act of ovipositing.
These two guys/gals are of slightly different (we believe a single instar difference) ages, and we are speculating that the female you photographed ovipositing in this plant may visit the plant on a regular basis to deposit a single egg a day to ensure that at least one of her offspring will be able to survive on your verdant pasture of a parsley plant.
We have to call your caterpillars Parsley Worms which is cited on BugGuide. They will change color and markings as they molt and grow.
July 23, 2013 7:37 pm
Just keeping you all abreast of the caterpillar growth. This is a youtube video of my parsley worms that I took tonight (July 23, 2013) they were being really active.
I was watching them cast their frass with their mandibles, chew on the leaves, they were even eating smaller instars, I think, either that, or cleaning up their old skin castoffs.
I tried to get a picture of them doing that, but it had eaten it until it was not recognizable by the time I got back. They’re very quick about eating
Thank you for the update.
Letter 4 – Black Swallowtail and eclosion question
Subject: Beautiful Black Swallowtail & question
Location: Naperville, IL
September 11, 2013 5:32 pm
All summer, I’ve been collecting the eggs that female Black Swallowtails have been laying on my potted parsley plants and rearing the hatched caterpillars. It’s always been my understanding that Black Swallowtails have two generations per summer – the first group ecloses in late spring after having overwintered as pupae.
The second group is the product of the mating of the first, and they fly in late summer, mate, and lay eggs. All of these eggs that have hatched since late August should technically be the offspring of this year’s second generation, the caterpillars that pupate yet do not emerge until next spring.
Well, the caterpillars that actually pupated in August, some as early as August 22nd, seem to be following that hypothesis; three weeks later, they’re still in their chrysalides and showing no sign of eclosing anytime soon. However, the caterpillars which pupated in early September, some as recently as September 4th, are eclosing now – all of them – just one week!
The older ones remain pupae. I would attribute this to the record heat we’ve been having (high 90s), but they’re all being reared in the same conditions. If the high temperatures are fooling the younger pupae into eclosing now, why aren’t the older pupae doing so? What do you think?
Signature: Dori Eldridge
Your Black Swallowtail photos are gorgeous. Alas, we cannot say for certain why the later group of caterpillars emerged first, but we suspect the warm weather might be playing a factor.
Letter 5 – Black Swallowtail Caterpillars
June 14, 2016 3:49 pm
Found these in our garden on a dill plant, there’s about 10 of them and we don’t know what they are or if they will harm the plants. Thanks!
These are Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, Papilio polyxenes, and they are sometimes called Carrot Worms or Parsley Worms because they feed on the foliage of carrots and related plants, including parsley and dill. They will eventually mature into gorgeous Black Swallowtail Butterflies.