Pipevine Swallowtail

Battus philenor

Battus philenor photo © by Mike Plagens

Near Bushnel Tanks, Mazatzal Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. 02 Sept. 2017. Here a male has found a female just emerged from her chrysalis (seen at upper left, now an empty exuvum).

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The commonly seen Pipevine Swallowtail reveals the nearby occurrence Aristolochia vine, a sometimes difficult to find plant. This is a conspicuous, iridescent, blue-black butterfly that avidly visits flower nectar sources. The 4 cm-long, orange-red caterpillars are sometimes found wandering after they have eaten their original host down to the ground. Upon being disturbed the caterpillar extrudes a pair of foul smelling glands from behind the head. The odor is similar to that of the host plant, and in fact toxic chemicals derived from Aristolochia are stored within the caterpillar and the adult butterfly, probably protecting them from insectivorous birds. Both butterfly and plant are fairly common along riparian habitats or large desert canyons and washes.

Papilionidae -- Swallowtail Butterfly Family

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Arizona Naturalist
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Invertebrates in Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 07 Sept. 2019.