Pipevine Swallowtail

Battus philenor

Summary 6

The Pipevine Swallowtail or Blue Swallowtail (Battus philenor) is a swallowtail butterfly found in North America and Central America. The butterflies are black with iridescent blue hind wings. They are found in many different habitats, but are most commonly found in forests. The black or red caterpillars feed on Aristolochia species, making them poisonous as both larvae and adults, while the adults feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers.

Description 7

The upper surface of the hind wings are an iridescent blue or blue-green with pale, arrow-head markings. Males have brighter metallic regions than females. The underside of the hind wing has seven orange submarginal spots surrounded by iridescent blue. Both surfaces of the fore wings are black or dull blackish-brown. Individuals of the Northern California subspecies, Battus philenor hirsuta, are smaller and hairier. Pipevine Swallowtails can have a wingspan to up to three and a half inches. Battus philenor can usually be found in fields, meadows, gardens, parks, open woods, roadsides and stream sides.Pipevine Swallowtail[1]

Similar species 6

The Pipevine Swallowtail is mimicked by many species, including the dark morph female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the Spicebush Swallowtail (P. troilus), the Black Swallowtail (P. polyxenes), the Ozark Swallowtail (P. joanae), the sympatricsubspecies Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), and the female Diana Fritillary (Speyeria diana).

Distribution 6

In the United States, the butterfly is found in New England down to Florida west to Nebraska, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon.

Larva description 8

Abdomen can be black or red. Those with black abdomens have a pair of yellow-orange verrucae on thoracic segments 1-3 and abdominal segments 1-9. Verrucae become longer on A7-9.

Larval host plants 6

Host plants for the caterpillars include the Pipevine (Aristolochia species), including Dutchman's pipe (A. californica), Virginia snake root (A. serpentaria) and others. Pipevines confer a poisonous quality to the larvae and resulting adults, much as the Monarch butterfly obtains protection by feeding on milkweed, or heliconiines by feeding on passion flowers.

GTM Occurrence 8

The Pipevine Swallowtail is considered uncommon and has been observed in all transects, but most common in the open habitat (Transect A). Individuals have been found in April and June-September. There have been 22 specimens observed as of December 28, 2015.

Habitat 9

B. philenor is found mostly in warm climates through out North America. The species favors open woodlands, meadows, and anywhere else an abundance of pipevine grow, including backyard gardens and nurseries. (Opler et al. 1995; Pyle 1981; Scott 1986; Comstock 1927; Lucien 1972; Allen 1991).

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Nature serve conservation status 10

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Other Considerations: Culture of host plants has extended range slightly in the Northeast. Cultivated pipevines may be oviposited on by migrant females but by themselves do not seem to often support sustained populations probably because such plants are too sparse on the landscape.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Mary Keim, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/38514062@N03/6182060780/
  2. (c) David A. Hofmann, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/23326361@N04/5620085267/
  3. (c) John Flannery, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/drphotomoto/4220460748/
  4. (c) David Hofmann, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), http://www.flickr.com/photos/23326361@N04/5885452864
  5. (c) gtmresearchreserve, all rights reserved, uploaded by GTMResearchReserve, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/2851669
  6. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battus_philenor
  7. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battus_philenor
  8. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  9. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31380356
  10. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28748464

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