Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

A Black Swallowtail at Eastern Neck Island refuge.

The Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) is a large butterfly in the swallowtail family and extremely close in appearance to the Pipevine and Spicebush swallowtails.

Like the other darker swallowtails, it has blue, white and orange markings, and very similar and related patterns on the top and bottom-side of its wings.

I would love to tell you all the places in Maryland I have seen black swallowtails, but I really can’t be sure. In flight, its extremely difficult to differentiate the black from the spicebush and pipevine and even if I get a shot, I usually need to studdy the markings closely to make a correct assessment.

I took the photo above at Eastern Neck Island Refuge, so I have definitely seen one there. I believe I also photographed a Black Swallowtail at Dan’s Mountain WMA, and possibly at Idylwild WMA.

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Comments

Black Swallowtail — 2 Comments

  1. Actually the photo is of a Spicebush swallowtail. The Black swallowtail has two separated rows of white markings along the wings with blue markings in between.
    The spicebush has the single row of white markings with the large blue area taking up most of the hindwing.
    Eastern Tigers have blue spots and are normally yellow, every photo of dark eastern tiger swallowtail I have seen where the butterfly is darker than a light to brown is a mis-classified Spicebuah Swallowtail or Black Swallowtail.

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