Black Swallowtail Butterfly Life Cycle
The black swallowtail butterfly lives from April to October. They are very small but they have wingspans up to 1/2 inch (13 mm).
Their bodies are pale with yellowish legs and antennae. The female’s body is longer than the male’s, which makes them look like a spider. The caterpillars are white with black spots. These caterpillars feed on the leaves of oak trees. After two weeks, the larvae emerge from their cocoons and start feeding on the foliage of other plants such as holly, ash or willow. At three months old, these little creatures become adults and fly away to search for a mate.
Parsley Host Plant For Black Swallowtail Butterflies
You can attract black swallowtail butterflies to your garden using parsley. You can use it to attract the butterflies because it attracts many insects including bees, wasps and ants.
When the caterpillars feed on the leaves of oak trees, they produce nectar that attracts honeybees and bumblebees. If you grow parsley near your house, you may even see monarch butterflies flying around!
Black Swallowtail Eggs
After the caterpillar has transformed into a chrysalis, it will hatch after 10 days. The adult insect will be yellow and black and its wingspan can reach up to 4 inches (10 cm).
After a few hours, the adult butterfly begins its mating ritual. The male and female pair off and then mate several times. The lifespan of a black swallowtail is around one week during which time the pair lays eggs. Females lay around 6 to 8 yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves of their host plants. When these eggs hatch, black caterpillars emerge and start the cycle all over again.
Black Swallowtail Food
The host plant for black swallowtail is common parsley (Petroselinum crispum), a biennial herb that grows in the median strips between fields or on roadsides. The plant is a member the Apiaceae family.
Other members of the family include carrots, parsnips, dill, fennel, and celery. The plant grows to 30 to 60 cm high and has yellow flowers with 4 petals that are 3 to 5 millimeters long. Its leaves are bi-pinnate compound that grow opposite (odd pinnate leaves) and have very short stalks (sessile). The leaves are 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) long and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide, with narrow lobes that are linear in shape. The leaves have a long petiole (stalk), a large terminal lobe and a smaller subterminal lobe. The plant contains many resins and has an aromatic smell.
Black swallowtail caterpillars can also feed on saffron thistle (Carunculo thistle – Cnicus spp. ) and prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola).
They also eat other common garden plants such as fennel, dill, carrots and parsley.
Parsley is an annual plant that grows 15 to 60 centimeters tall. The stem is swollen at the base and has long hairs on it.
The leaves are shaped like a spearhead, but are not as long as a regular spearhead (only about 2 to 7 inches long). They grow alternately on long stalks and look like lances with wings. They are dark green and shiny and have small hairs on the bottom side. The leaves have a very strong flavor. There is also a white flowered form of parsley that can be found in the wild.
Black swallowtail caterpillars are black with blue, red and yellow markings along the back. The caterpillars have black bristles (setae) along the whole body.
Black swallowtail caterpillars are smooth and shiny. When the caterpillar is mature, it will be between 2.4 inches and 5.5 inches long.
Black swallowtails, also known as parsleyworms or parsley hawkmoths, are among the many types of moths. They belong to the family Swallowtail (Papilionidae) and genus Parantica.
Sources & references used in this article:
Antioxidant enzymes of the black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes, and their response to the prooxidant allelochemical, quercetin by CA Pritsos, S Ahmad, SM Bowen… – Archives of insect …, 1988 – Wiley Online Library
The contributions of larval growth and pupal duration to protandry in the black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes by RC Lederhouse, MD Finke, JM Scriber – Oecologia, 1982 – Springer
Effects of contact chemistry and host plant experience in the oviposition behaviour of the eastern black swallowtail butterfly by CA Heinz, P Feeny – Animal Behaviour, 2005 – Elsevier
Threatened swallowtail butterflies of the world: the IUCN Red Data Book by NM Collins, MG Morris – 1985 – books.google.com
Attracting butterflies to the garden by PA Opler, WS Cranshaw – Insect series. Home & garden; no …, 2005 – mountainscholar.org
Butterflies and plants by PR Ehrlich, PH Raven – Scientific American, 1967 – JSTOR
Florida Butterflies, Sheet 2 by JL Castner – 1997 – capecoral.net
Influence of juvenile hormone on territorial and aggressive behavior in the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) by T Bergin – 2007 – digitalcommons.colby.edu