Spicebush Swallowtail

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Common Name: Spicebush Swallowtail
Scientific Name: Papilio truilus
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Papilio
Species:P. truilus


Catipillar: The catipillar had two large false eyes on the front of it's head. It is brightly colored and is thought to be a small lizard or snake by predators discourgaing it's consumption. Also since the false eyes are so large the predators assume that the eyes belong to a much larger animal. The catipillar aslo avoids danger by hiding it's self in the shelter of a leaf.
external image Spicebush_Swallowtail_larva.jpg This picture shows the Spicebush Swallowtail catipillar in the leaf of a Spicebush.

Adults: They have spoon-shaped tails and they have bright green(males) or blue(females) on their forewings. They are primarily black and both male and female are able to mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail. They also have large greenish blue spots that boarder their wings. They also have a distinct orange spot on the on the upper surface of each hind wing so they can not be confused with other similar looking butterflies.
external image butterfly_spicebush_swallowtail_diagram.jpg


Spicebush Swallow tails live in a varity of different places in Eastern and Midwestern North America. They however tend to live in open wooded areas or on the edges of forests. They are also in the Pine Barrens and in fields ajacent to wooded areas. They are also found in woody swamps. The swallow tail will rarely stray from this habitat and it does poor in urban areas.
This is an example of a place the Spicebush Swallowtail may live
This is an example of a place the Spicebush Swallowtail may live

Geographic Range:

The Spicebush Swallowtail is found only in the eastern US and southern Ontario, with occasional strays in the American Midwest and even Cuba. This map below shows where the butterfly is located in the United states and how dense the population is. Such as in New Jersey which is shaded in the green there are 2 broods.
external image pipevine_rangemap_300px.jpg

Mating Behavior:

There are two types of Spicebush Swallowtails a male and a female.
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly female, Papilio troilus, black blue butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly female, Papilio troilus, black blue butterfly
The top picture shows the male Spicebush Swallowtail and the bottom is the female Spicebush swallowtail.
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly male, Papilio troilus
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly male, Papilio troilus

Inorder to find a mate the male will first fly low on long the sides of road and forests. Then once he has found a female they will circle around one another to see if the other is a suitable mate this is called the courtship dance. The bright patterns that the butterfly inherits from it's parents help with this. Then they will go to the ground and Mate as shown in the video below. The process is extremely long considering butterflies have short lifespans. Then when this is done the female carries the fertilized eggs and lays them on a spicebush leaf. Then she flys away leaving the eggs to hatch and grow up into butterflies alone.

Mating procees (above) Courtship Dance(to the right)

Life Cycle:

First the male and female mate. Then the femal lays her eggs on the leaf of a Spicebush plant Hence the butterfly's name.
external image SpiceBushAlbumC.jpgThis is a picture of the Spicebush.
Then the eggs hatch, when they hatch depends on what time they were laid, but normally sometime in spiring. Then after that they start as a young larva they grow into a mature larva eating the leaf of the spicebush. Soon after that they form a beginning pupa which starts out green. Then over time the pupa becomes brown and Spicebush swallow tail is ready to emerge. The butterfly then emerges slowly and hangs on the pupa for hours until it's wing are dry. Then after that it is ready to fly away and start the process over again with it's own eggs.

external image lifecycle%20blue%20text%20copy.jpg

Feeding Habits

Caterpillars: They feed on Spicebush, Sassafras Tree, Pondspice, Tulip Tree, Sweetbay and Camphor.(note:these are also places where the caterpillars hatch).
Adults: The adult butterflies feed on nectar from Japanese honeysuckle, jewelweed, thistles, milkweed, azalea, dogbane, lantana, mimosa, and sweet pepperbush.

Ecological Role

These butterflies ponallite plants, many of which people sell for a living importance. Also because butterflies are sensitive to toxins and disturbance, they are good indicators of the overall status of ecosystems. So these butterflies help people see how their garnden is doing and if there is say and issue. So if the Spicebush Swallowtails stay away it means that there is sometype of toxin that has been used or there is another problem. Also these butterflies provide food for predators in most stages of their life. So they are important for with out them there could be a large domino affect causing many ecological problems.
external image Pics%5CPerennials%5CButterfly%20Bush%20Buddleia.JPGexternal image tuliptree2.jpgThese are some of the plants that the Spicebush Swallowtail pollinates.
external image Heron.gr.blue.snake.dunson.a.compress.JPGexternal image dragonfly-info0.gifThese are some of the Spicebush Swallowtail's many predators. The dragonfly and Stork.

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