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

Subject:  Giant Swallowtail
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 04/20/2018
Time: 011:20 AM EDT
This morning from the window, Daniel noticed this Giant Swallowtail land in the meadow out front.  Daniel has learned through the years to get a shot quickly before fine tuning adjustments and camera angle, and sure enough, as he moved closer for a better angle, this beauty flew off.  If memory serves us correctly, Giant Swallowtails, which are native to the eastern United States, first appeared in Los Angeles around 1998.  Cultivation of citrus trees and the adaptation of citrus trees as an acceptable food for the caterpillars have led to this significant range expansion.

Giant Swallowtail


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What is this
Geographic location of the bug:  Malanda Far North Queensland Australia
Date: 04/18/2018
Time: 04:25 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I am very interested to find out what caterpillar this is
How you want your letter signed:  From Austin

Birdwing Caterpillar

Dear Austin,
This stunning caterpillar is a Birdwing Caterpillar, but we cannot say for certain if it is a Cape York Birdwing, our first choice that is pictured on Butterfly House, or if it is the caterpillar of a Cairn’s Birdwing, also pictured on Butterfly House.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Perhaps Black Swallowtail Butterflies?
Geographic location of the bug:  Coryell County, TX
Date: 03/22/2018
Time: 03:28 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello again!
Just wanted to share these beautiful butterflies visiting the phlox yesterday; warm weather here. I think these are Black Swallowtails. You have kindly identified them for me before. Two flew off together, dancing around each other in the air.
Thank you and very best wishes!
How you want your letter signed:  Ellen

Female Black Swallowtail

Hi Ellen,
You are correct that these are Black Swallowtails.  Both individuals are female Black Swallowtails which have a generous dusting of blue scales on the hind wings while male Black Swallowtails have more yellow spots.  Has your Whitelined Sphinx returned???

Female Black Swallowtails

Good morning, and thank you! Yes, the White-lined Sphinx has returned, with another individual,  and actual hummingbirds also, Black-chinned and Ruby-throated. The Sphinx are beautiful moths, and I had never noticed them in our yard before this year, although my neighbor has had them visit for several years. One has been visiting the always-popular Salvia greggii.
I hope you’ll both have a wonderful day.

Female Black Swallowtails

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Black butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Athens Texas
Date: 09/22/2017
Time: 09:25 PM EDT
I am interested to know the identification of a butterfly.
How you want your letter signed:  Janice

Spicebush Swallowtail

Dear Janice,
The green spots on the lower wings indicate this is a male Spicebush Swallowtail like the one in this BugGuide image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:  Our editorial staff will be on holiday for a few weeks, so we are post-dating submissions to go live during our absence.  We hope you enjoy this gorgeous series of images of the life cycle of the Anise Swallowtail

Subject: West Los Angeles sighting – Anise Swallow Tail #1
Location: West Los Angeles
June 1, 2017 12:19 pm
Hi Daniel,
Here’s the first of my sets of pictures you asked me to trickle in. Since I can attach only 3 images, I’m going to send in 4 sets for the swallow tail. If this is too much, please let me know.
Hope you enjoy these.
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Anise Swallowtail Eggs

Thanks Jeff,
We will put together a nice life cycle posting with the images you have sent.  We will distill them down to the best images and we will postdate your submission so it goes live during our absence mid month.  We feel we have to provide you with a challenge though.  Your spectacular life cycle images are lacking critical two stages.  We hope someday you can capture the actual emergence of the adult from the chrysalis, and of course, we always love to post images of mating insects to our Bug Love page.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar: Early Instar

Newly hatched Anise Swallowtails somewhat resemble bird droppings which may help to camouflage them from predators.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars

As they grow and molt, later instars of the Anise Swallowtail Caterillar take on the characteristic green color with black and yellow spots.

Anise Swallowtail with Osmetrium

When threatened, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar reveals its osmetrium, a forked orange organ that releases a foul smell to deter predators.

Prepupal Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

As pupation time nears, the Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar spins a silken girdle to help keep it from hanging down.

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis with Chalcid Wasp

This Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis is being visited by a parasitoid Chalcid Wasp.  Here is a posting from BugGuide that shows a close-up of the Chalcid Wasp.  Butterfly Fun Facts has an excellent description of this Parasitoid, including:  “A healthy chrysalis will have light membranes between its abdominal segments. As wasps grow inside the chrysalis, the membranes turn dark.  Infected chrysalises turn darker and often have a reddish tinge to them.  Remember! When a chrysalis is first infected (eggs laid in the chrysalis) it will appear healthy, have the correct colors and shades, and will move normal. Once the wasp larvae have grown for a few days, the color of the chrysalis will darken.  A chrysalis that has a mature butterfly inside it will also turn dark the day before the butterfly emerges. If a butterfly is inside, you will see the wing pads the day before the butterfly emerges. If it darkens and wing pads cannot be seen, it is a danger sign.”  Unfortunately, a percentage of Swallowtail Chrysalides will never produce an adult if they are preyed upon by parasitoid Chalcid Wasps.

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis

The Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis darkens just before an adult is ready to emerge.

Anise Swallowtail

This is a gorgeous, adult Anise Swallowtail.

Anise Swallowtail

Ovipositing Anise Swallowtail

And the cycle begins anew as a female Anise Swallowtail deposits her eggs on the host plant.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Courting Butterflies
Location: Coryell County, Texas
March 9, 2017 3:39 pm
Hello again! These two butterflies stayed near the autumn sage (Salvia greggi) for about thirty minutes. I think they are more of the Giant Swallowtails, quite worn. She (I think) was trying to nectar, and he (I think) was in dogged pursuit. She would fly up to the sky, fly low, fly all around, couldn’t shake him, or was it a courtship dance? I don’t know. Eventually she flew off without him while he was patrolling nearby, and he flew all around the house for a time, perhaps looking for her? I only saw him nectar once.
Cloudy, humid, and warm 65 degrees, with a light breeze
Thank you and best wishes!
Signature: Ellen

Courting Giant Swallowtails

Dear Ellen,
We agree that these are courting Giant Swallowtails, and your submission has perfect timing.  We saw a our first Giant Swallowtail of the season nectaring on the lantana growing on the curb of our neighbor’s yard today, but we were running late for work and we did not have an opportunity to snap an image.  Your action images are gorgeous.

Courting Giant Swallowtails

Thank you so much! Best wishes to you both. 😊

Courting Giant Swallowtails

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination