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Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Spicebush Swallowtail
The characteristic orange spots on the leading edges of the hind wings are not visible in this resting spicebush swallowtail.
Habitat: Open woodland, forest edges, pine barrens, and old fields adjacent to woodlands Garden Abundance: Occasional Wingspan: 3.5 to 5.0in Larval Host Plants: Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), camphor tree (Cinnamonum camphora) and red bay (Persea borbonia) Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Pentas (Pentas lanceolata), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), purpletop verbena (Verbena bonarienis).

The spicebush swallowtail is easily identified by the large greenish-blue spots along the outer border of the top surfaces of all four wings, and the bright orange spot on the leading edge of the upper surface of each hind wing. The spicebush swallowtail is one of many North American butterflies that mimic the unpalatable pipevine swallowtail, but the pipevine lacks the bright orange spots on the upper surface of the hind wings. Relying almost entirely on sassafras, spicebush and camphor tree for larval food plant hosts,the spicebush swallowtail rarely strays far from its preferred woodland habitat and does very poorly in urban settings. A true lover of flowers, it can readily be enticed out into the open with a colorful garden display.

Possessing two large false eyes on the front end of the body, the colorful spicebush swallowtail caterpillar masquerades as a small lizard or snake, thereby discouraging attacks from predators. To further aid in its defense, the resting caterpillar avoids detection by hiding inside a solitary rolled leaf shelter.

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