Post last updated: December 24th, 2018

The Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) ranges from North Carolina down through the southern states and across to the bottom portion of Arizona and into Mexico as well as a small area in Northern California. However, it also ranges less often from Pennsylvania across the Unites States to upper Arizona, anywhere that pipevine grows in abundance. They fly from April to early fall.



Open woodland and woodland edges mostly in warm climates.


The forewings are black, the hindwings are iridescent blue with spots.

Females have a row of yellow-white dots across the wing span when fully open. When it folds its wings, the underside of the wing exposes a single, curved row of bright orange dots. The body is black with white polka dots. The wing size is 2-3/4 to 4 inches.


Butterfly Pipevine Swallowtail male2-1737


Eggs are round, reddish-orange and remain in the egg state for 4 to 10 days.

The caterpillar starts out brown with short orange spikes. It will turn black with yellowish spikes. It feeds on various species of the Pipevine plant (Aristolochia) which makes them distasteful and toxic to predators. The toxin remains for the entire life cycle of the swallowtail.  After 3 to 4 weeks, it attaches itself to something and begins to spin silk. By the 20th day, it goes into the “J” formation and becomes a chrysalis.

Chrysalis can be green or brown with bright yellow markings. The posterior end is segmented, unlike other butterfly chrysalis, the thorax is raised, and the head sports a pair of horns. It will remain a chrysalis for 13 days.

Once the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, the adult will live for 6 to 14 days.



Host Plants – Pipevine. When searching for a pipevine plant for your garden, keep in mind that some of the tropical versions such as Giant Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia gigantea) are toxic to the Pipevine Swallowtail. The plant will still attract the adult female to lay her eggs but the eggs will die after feeding on the vine. Supposedly, these are not toxic to the butterfly: Dutchman’s pipevine (A. fimbriata) and (A. tomentosa) and (A. macrophylla). There is a complete list at North American Butterfly Association giving the regions for each pipevine plant but the information dates back to 2001 and may not reflect newer information on toxicity to the pipevine swallowtail.

Nectar Plants – Bergamot, California Buckeye, common azalea, Dame’s Rocket, Honeysuckle, Lantana, Lilac, Lupines, Milkweed, Petunia, Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Teasel, Thistle (Cirsium species), Verbena and Viper’s Bugloss.


    1. Meta – I have thoroughly enjoyed my butterflies this year. Why don’t you get yourself some purple coneflower seeds and sow them now in pots so they will be ready to plant out in your garden in the spring? They are tremendous butterfly magnets and I have found them easy to grow from seed.

  1. Looks like a Pipevine to me.

    I am taking persimmons to Church on Sunday. A man there cuts them open and something on the inside not clear to me shows whether it will be a harsh winter. I am surprised persimmons are getting ripe. I thought it had to frost or something. One was so ripe it fell off the tree when I touched it.

    1. Nell Jean, I am jealous. I love persimmons but the critters get to most of mine. I finally started marking my calendar each year to pick whatever was on the tree September first, ripe or not. I got a whopping 7 small persimmons. It’s an upcoming post. Let me know what the persimmon reader tells you about our winter.

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