Welcome to part one of a series I am doing called Species Spotlight. Each entry will showcase one particular species of invertebrate, whether it’s a butterfly, a moth, an arachnid or a millipede. Wherever possible I will use my own photographs and each entry will feature general information of the species as well as any additional notes that I can add, based on working with said species. The topic of this entry is the Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor.
Welcome to part two of my caterpillar food plant series (the first of which was on Saturniidae moth food plants seen HERE). For this entry I am focusing on the five species of Swallowtail butterflies (family Papilionidae) from New England. This list does not include strays; only species that can be found in this area normally. The Papilionidae, numbering over 700 species worldwide, are among our largest and most spectacular of butterflies!
EASTERN BLACK SWALLOWTAIL – Papilio polyxenes asterius
I have had a lifelong fascination with lepidoptera, the study of butterflies and moths. Ever since I received a kit for Christmas for collecting them when I was seven, I have been hooked. As a child I have many great memories of being out with my net collecting various species of local butterflies. Then, at night, I would be out again checking out the local street lights seeing what moths were attracted and wondering why, if moths only flew at night, were they were so attracted to lights? As the years went on I started to notice a pattern. The places where I used to collect were no longer available as they had been renovated for new houses, shopping centers and condominiums. I also noticed something else…the numbers of wild species flying around were not there anymore! It was obvious that this habitat destruction was taking its toll. This was when my attitude towards butterflies and moths changed. Even as a child it was obvious we were hurting the environment.