Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sparkling spicebush swallowtail

One of the two spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) pupae began darkening two days ago (photo on the left), and this morning I knew it was close to emerging because I could see the spots on the front wings through the chrysalis (photo on the right).

Sure enough, at 9:30am it emerged...
It only took about fifteen minutes for it to completely expand its wings.  The scales on the hindwings are highly reflective, and appear more green in photos using a flash. The last two photos shown here were taken in bright light without a flash, so the blue scales don't appear quite so silvery.  The marginal spots are frosty sage green above, and bright orange rimmed in pale yellow below.

Spicebush swallowtails range from southern Canada into Florida, and from the east coast of the US to Oklahoma and eastern Texas, occasionally straying further west.  Larvae feed on spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafras trees.

1 comment:

  1. In what seems like another era, folks in PA used sassafras root in homemade root beer. Then someone decided a compound therein (safrole) could cause cancer. Animal studies were used to justify a ban on the commercial product; not that it stopped continued use by folks back in the hills.

    So, another butterfly. Another toxic plant. Verrry interesting.