The Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) is a large, black beautiful buttefly.
A big fan of flowering plants, it will fly low to the ground or eye level and often continues to flutter its wings when at rest. This particular swallowtail is very popular in the south and will not range too far north in the continental U.S., but it can be found in all parts of Maryland.
The Pipevine is extremely similar in appearance to the Spicebush and Black Swallowtails, as all three species feature a black wing canvas that may show some combination of white specks and blue shading. The Pipevine will often distinguish itself by having no orange marking of any kind on its top wings and a very incomplete border of white circles.
The Black Swallowtail will have faint white marks along the bottom edge of its wing and additional white marks on the top portion of its wings leading up toward the head. The Spicebush displays very strong white markings and larger circles that run the length of the bottom portion of its wings.
The real id clincher comes from the closed position. The image to the left gives a great view of the Pipevine’s distinctive pattern of white, orange and blue markings that separate it from the black and spicebush. There is a much lower number of markings on the Pipevine, and the eyespots are orange or white and much larger than marks on the other dark swallowtails.
Personally, I have photographed the Pipevine at Eastern Neck Island Refuge and Millington WMA, but that is not to say it doesn’t inhabit other areas of the state.