Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

(Battus philenor)

The Pipevine Swallowtail is a large black and purple butterfly found throughout much of the United States, but especially the southern Appalachian Mountains.

The popular use of the Pipevine Plant in gardens has resulted in the spread of this butterfly into parts on Ontario, Canada and around some of the Great Lakes region.

As the name implies, it is a host plant for this beautiful butterfly.

Pipevine swallowtail

This butterfly can be found on the wing almost throughout the year in the warmer South, and from spring to fall in the cooler areas of the North.

This butterfly's relation with five other butterflies -- the similarly patterned Tiger, Black and Spicebush swallowtails, and the Red-spotted Purple and female Diana, is a great example of "mimicry."

All of the above butterflies avoid predation by copying the color, flight and behavior of the Pipevine swallowtail, which absorbs toxic chemicals from its host plant.

This makes the butterfly distasteful to birds and other predators.


This swallowtail is unique in that it is mostly black above with a bluish iridescence on the hind wings. It also has a row of orange spots along the margin of the ventral hind wing.

The size from wing tip to wing tip is 2 and 2/4 inches to 4 and 1/2 inches.


This butterfly is often found in open forests where its host plant grows naturally and and in gardens where it is cultivated. The host plant also flourishes in meadows, parks and roadsides, so keep your eyes open.


The wings of this swallowtail flutter quickly while the butterfly feeds on nectar.

Be sure to have plenty in your gardens.

Males of this species will patrol in search of females during the warm hours of the day.

Larval and host plants:

Larvae feed on various species of pipe vine (Aristolochia). The larvae are black or brown with red tubercles (small knobby projections) along each side of their back.

Nectar plants:

pipevine swallowtail larvae

Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), lilac (Syringa), azalea (Rhododendron), petunia (Petunia) and a host of others.

Offer plenty of nectar and the host plants in your gardens to attract this wonderful butterfly.

Offer water and protection as well.

Pipevine Swallowtail and Other Common Butterflies

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Butterfly Information

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