Black Swallowtail Butterfly
If you have dill, fennel, carrots, or parsley in your garden, you may have seen the brightly colored caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly.
This butterfly is common in the Southeast and is a welcome sight for most as their wings have dashes of color – blue, orange, and yellow. Males and females have slight differences in the upper surfaces of their wings and females are generally larger than males.
When threatened, the caterpillar will extrude bright orange horn-like organs that are located just behind their head. This organ is called an osmeteria and is used to place a chemical repellent on any predators that threaten a caterpillar. All swallowtail caterpillars have this organ.
Butterfly Size: 3 1/4 – 4 1/4 inches
Habitats: Open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground such as old fields, alongside roads, grassy lawns, and rights-of-way.
Plants for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly
- Leaves of plants in the parsley family (Apiaceae)
- Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)
- carrot (Daucus carota sativus)
- wedgeleaf eryngo (Eryngium cuneifolium)
- celery (Apium graveolens)
- dill (Antheum graveolens)
- spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)
- wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
- parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
- mock bishopweed (Ptilimnium capillaceum)
- fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- water cowbane (Oxypolis filiformis)
- sometimes plants in the citrus family (Rutaceae) are preferred.
Nectar from many types of flowers including:
- butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
- milkweeds (Asclepias spp)
- purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- bee balm (Monarda spp)
- buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
- red clover
- butterfly bush
- and many more.
Food and Host Plants
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