Zebra Swallowtail

Eurytides marcellus

Summary 5

The Zebra Swallowtail (Protographium marcellus, formerly listed under genera Eurytides, Iphiclides, Graphium and Papilio by some authorities) is a swallowtail butterfly native to the eastern United States and southeast Canada. Its distinctive wing shape and long tails make it easy to identify, and its black and white-striped pattern is reminiscent of a zebra. The butterflies are closely associated with pawpaws, and are rarely found far from these trees.

Description 6

The Zebra Swallowtail has a wingspan of 6.4 to 10.4 cm (2.5 to 4.1 in). The triangular wings are white to greenish-white with black longitudinal stripes. A pair of swordlike tails extend from the hind wings. The inner margin of the hind wing has two blue spots on the corner and a red spot near the body. A red stripe runs along the middle of the ventral hind wing. P. marcellus has two seasonal forms, one occurring in the spring and the other in the summer. Spring forms are smaller, more white, and have short, black tails with white tips. Summer forms are larger, have broader black stripes, and longer, black tails with white edges.

Larva Description 7

Caterpillars are generally hairless. They have a forked gland called the osmeterium that can protrude from the back of the head if the butterfly is alarmed. This releases a bad smell that is used as defense mechanism. There are two color morphologies of caterpillars. The first is green with yellow and black bands, and the other is dark brown with orange and white bands.

Range wingspan: 5 to 9 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Larval host plants 8

The Zebra Swallowtail caterpillar feeds only on species within the genus Asimina. Commonly used species include A. angustifolia (Slimleaf Pawpaw), A. incana (Woolly Pawpaw), A. parviflora (Smallflower Pawpaw), A. reticulata (Netted Pawpaw), A. tetramera (Four-petal Pawpaw), and A. triloba (Common Pawpaw). P. marcellus caterpillars ingest chemicals called annonaceous acetogenins from their host plants, which are retained in the body tissues of both the caterpillar and the adult, and may help chemically protect the butterfly from birds.

GTM Occurrence 9

The Zebra Swallowtail is considered rare at the GTM and was spotted along the open habitat of Transect A in late September. There has only been a single specimen observed as of December 28, 2015.

Distribution 10

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Central Pennsylvania west to eastern Great Plains south through most of Florida and into Texas. Very rare stragglers as far as New England.

Habitat 11

The zebra swallowtail prefers corridors of wooded land alongside bodies of water such as riversides, lakeshores, marshes and open moist woods.

Habitat Regions: temperate

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

Nature serve conservation status 12

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Larry Meade, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/34323709@N07/3690713823
  2. (c) Jerry Oldenettel, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/jroldenettel/2622596677/
  3. (c) Dave Govoni, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgovoni/6012629930/
  4. (c) Richard Crook, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/richardwc/17215069185/
  5. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurytides_marcellus
  6. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protographium_marcellus
  7. 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/31394526
  8. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protographium_marcellus
  9. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  10. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28748500
  11. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31394525
  12. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28748494

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