Currently viewing the category: "swallowtails"

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.

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.


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

Subject: Butterfly/Moth
Location: Indiana
January 17, 2017 7:36 pm
Found this butterfly/moth unable to fly. I tried to offer it some sugar water and fruit, but it didn’t live long after I found it.
Signature: Eliza

Deformed Tiger Swallowtail

Dear Eliza,
This is a Tiger Swallowtail, and for some reason its wings failed to expand after emerging from the Chrysalis.

Subject: Urban Oasis for Butterflies
Location: Harker Heights, Texas
November 15, 2016 9:00 pm
Hello again!
Bad news: I had to have dental surgery. 🙁
Good news: My very-excellent-surgeon has built a new office building, complete with wildlife gardens that he and his wife planted. 🙂
Clouds of butterflies are enjoying their gardens. Eighty-three degrees today, with not a cloud in the skies.
I saw monarchs, queens (I think? some mating), American snouts, giant swallowtails, sulphurs, skippers, whites, emperors, maybe sleepy oranges, tiny blues… all so beautiful.
Hoping you’re both having a great week.
Signature: Ellen



Dear Ellen,
We are sorry to hear about your surgery, and we think it is amazing that you took your camera with you to the dentist.  We love your images of Queens, a Monarch and a Giant Swallowtail.



Thank you! I had to return to the dental surgeon’s office a second day, oh joy, and took my camera then. The surgeon and staff had invited me into the employees’ courtyard to take photos because I admired the gardens through the picture windows when I saw them on the first day. So very kind of them!



Subject: Bug identification
Location: Munhall PA 15120
November 10, 2016 6:07 pm
This bug appeared on my watering vase when watering my yellow mums.
Signature: Ernie

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Dear Ernie,
The small colorful moth is an Ailanthus Webworm, and your other image appears to be a dead female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, based on the blue coloration on the hind wings, as depicted in this BugGuide image.