Spicebrush Swallowtail

a black butterfly – Identification for artistic purposes.
I am a photographer, and my latest preoccupation is taking pictures of myself holding various insects. Previously I submitted an adorable little fuzzy moth, and to add to that I also have what I’m pretty sure is a paper wasp, and what I think might be a swallowtail butterfly. Both were photographed in Richmond, VA. I unfortunately can’t remember the seasons. If you get a chance, let me know. Thank you for your wonderful site!

Hi Kelli,
Your butterfly is a Spicebrush Swallowtail, Papilio troilus.

Question about the name
August 31, 2009
Hi… a friend was getting my assistance today in identifying a caterpillar. She later said that she found it on your site and that it was a “Spicebrush Swallowtail.” I instantly thought that it should be “Spicebush” Swallowtail (bush, not brush), so I came to your site to investigate. Sure enough, you had four or five entries (found via the search option) where they were called “spicebrush” swallowtails.
I think this is an error and that it should be “spicebush,” but I’m not an entomologist and will defer to your expertise. Just wanted to alter you, or be educated myself. 🙂

Hi Stephanie,
The letter you cite is an older posting to our site, and though we have seen both spellings in our research, we agree that the common name Spicebush is more appropriate.  In our childhood, we referred to the butterfly as a Spicebrush Swallowtail, and that name stuck for a long time.  Often errors become established as alternate names.  Though we are not correcting this spelling in our archive, we do take note and all recent postings are identified as Spicebush Swallowtails.

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