Papilio troilus, the Spicebush Swallowtail, ranges throughout the eastern
half of the United States from southern Maine to Florida. In Canada there
are populations in
southern Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba.
The specimen above
is a male as identified
by pale green hind wing scales. Females have a similar pattern, but
colouration is a pale blue.
copyright C. Odenkirk
During my preteen years (1950's) in Roselle,
New Jersey, this species was very abundant, and larvae were frequently
found in leaf-fold enclosures on Sassafras albidum.
In open fields
adjacent train tracks, thirty to forty
larvae could easily be found in an hour or so on low regrowth from cut
|Sassafras albidum: Photo courtesy Ken
|Photo courtesy of Candy
These interesting larvae with their striking false
eyespots were taken home in their leaf furls and reared to pupal stage in
glass, gallon pickle jars.
Fresh leaves,three or four to a twig, were suplied every
few days, and frass and condensation were removed regularly.
When larvae were
ready to form chrysalids, they would turn a brilliant yellow and "clear
guts" with a loose, runny stool.
Sometimes the prepupal larvae would
"hang" themselves attached to an upright
sassafras twig; at other times they would "hang" in typical swallowtail
fashion from the cardboard on the bottom side of the jar lid.
Photo courtesy of Ken Stein
Photos courtesy of Candy Fuller.
Swallowtail larvae typically
fasten their claspers to a well constructed silk pad and swing a loop of
silk over their upper bodies to "hammock" themselves upright on a vertical surface
or horizontally on an outward growing branch.
First brood stock would only spend
9-12 days in the pupa (chrysalis) stage, while the fall generation would overwinter
in pupal form.
Photo courtesy of Ken Stein|
Although named "The
Spicebush Swallowtail", it has been my experience that the
species prefers Sassafras. I have found larvae on both plants, but always
more abundantly on S. albidum even when L. benzoin was in close proximity.
In either case, the characteristic leaf furl was always evident. Early instar
larvae would fasten silk to either side of a small cut line near leaf edge,
and the drying silk would draw the edge into a protective flap. As larvae
progressed, new homes were fashioned. A small leaf was often completely
to house a fifth instar larva.
The larvae seem to have four
1. Throughout their lives they spend most of the day
hidden in their leaf
furls (early instar fold to the right) feeding almost exclusively at night.
2. The false eyespots might scare some predators as might the enlarged cobra-
3. Disturbed larvae frequently extend bright orange osmetrium which give off an
4. Late instar larvae are a bright camouflage-green.
of Candy Feller|
Adult males can easily be distinguished from females by the green wing scales
found on the lower wings in males. Females have blue wing scales. Both sexes
frequent a variety of flowers and seem to prefer........During their feeding
forays, females will frequently take time to visit foodplants where they lay
single eggs on the undersides of leaves. The females alight, curl their
abdomens under the leaves, and quickly affix an egg in a process lasting only
two to three seconds. Incubation takes only a few days and larvae progress
rapidly to pupation in three to four weeks. Spring/summer livestock emerges
from chrysalids in nine to twelve days while larvae developing in late summer
go through a winter diapause in the pupal stage.
Louise Dawson surprised me with this image of a
two day old larva. I had always assumed they were smooth-skinned even
in the first instar.
Second instar larvae are considerably darker with a light,
cream-coloured saddle and a white behind.
Milbert's tortoise shell
Canadian Tiger swallowtail
American painted lady
Google is one of my favourite Search Engines and seems to offer the most
extensive listing of butterfly sites. Use your back arrow to return to this site after using the
Google search box to the left.
To use Google most effectively, type in either the complete Latin name for the butterfly or
the complete common name followed by the word butterfly. If I wanted additional information
about the red admiral, I would type in "Vanessa atalanta" or "red admiral butterfly" and then
click on the Google Go button to the left.
Here are some additonal northeastern North American butterflies of interest.
To my knowledge, these species do not fly on Prince Edward Island, but I have reared
most of them as a boy growing up in rural New Jersey.
Eastern Tiger swallowtail
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