Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Critter of the Week: Black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

As the weather starts to turn cooler, I start to see fewer and fewer butterflies. The one seen here is a black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) which is easily confused with a spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)...and I hope I got this right after staring at numerous photos of both species and mine! Their vibrant colors can be seen as they flit across marshes, open areas, fields, meadows and gardens. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism (males and females vary in appearance). Adults feed on nectar of numerous plants including (but not limited to) thistles, milkweed, and red clover. Males will actually mix perching and patrolling for receptive females.

So once mating has occurred, females will lay eggs singly on host plants which are then consumed by the larvae. What plants are caterpillar hosts you ask? Well members of the parsley family (Apiaceae) which includes: dill, celery, carrots, and Queen Anne's lace. In some regions plants from the citrus famila (Rutaceae) are used...which is quite likely down here.

This is a relatively common butterfly and thus far there are no conservation concerns associated with them. However, things can change so lets keep protecting a wide variety of habitat!

Please click the link above for more information about the black swallowtail life cycle!

1 comment:

  1. So for some reason the link didn't appear so here it is!