Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (Battus philenor)

Characteristics, Identifcation and Size

The Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) is black with a single row of pale spots near wing edges. This beautiful butterfly is sometimes called the "Blue Swallowtail". The male has iridescent blue hind wings, and the female a lighter blue coloring.

Birds find the caterpillar and butterfly to be distasteful, as the Pipevine plant that it eats contains an acid toxic to some animals.

Other butterflies mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail, such as the Black Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail and Red-Spotted Purple, and derive some protection from predators by duplicating the Pipevine's coloration.

Its size is in the 2.75" - 4.0" range.

Distribution and Habitat

It is seen in the southern United States, from the Gulf Coast north to near Chicago, and from the Atlantic seaboard west to Arizona. The butterfly is common in open habitats and gardens, and produces 2-4 broods per year.

Nectar and Host Plants Used by the Pipevine Swallowtail

The Pipevine Swallotail uses Pipevine (Dutchman's Pipe) as its host plant.

Nectar plants frequented by the Pipevine Swallowtail include Butterfly Bush, Swamp Milkweed, Mexican Sunflower, and Phlox. It prefers nectar plants in the pink, purple and orange color range

Pipevine Swallowtail Life Cycle Stages and Times

Stage Typical Duration
Egg stage Generally 4 to 10 days, depending on temperature and host plant
Caterpillar (larval) stage 3 to 4 weeks
Chrysalis (pupal) stage 10 to 20 days (except for overwintering pupae)
Adult butterfly stage 6 to 14 days

 

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly in East Texas - October 17, 2016
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly in East Texas - October 17, 2016

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly on Zinnias
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly on Zinnias

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (dorsal view)
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly



Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly on a Butterfly Bush
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly on Milkweed
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly on Milkweed

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (ventral view) feeding on a Butterfly Bush
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly feeding on a Butterfly Bush

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly exhibiting its beautiful bluish body
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly exhibiting its beautiful bluish body

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (lower left) and Pipevine Swallowtail (upper right)
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (lower left) and Pipevine Swallowtail (upper right)