Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)
Black Swallowtail butterflies aka Eastern Black Swallowtails are strong fliers that enjoy open areas and ‘hilltopping’. Hilltopping is popular among males in search of females; it allows a greater area to be covered in search of a mate. Males can also be very territorial, chasing other males off their hill.
The wings of the Black Swallowtails are black with yellow with additional blue markings. This large butterfly commonly feeds on taller plants with longer-tubed flowers. They are wonderful guests to welcome and are a pleasure to watch dashing through the garden.
The female Black Swallowtail lays tiny round yellow eggs on its host plant (plants in the carrot family).
Ten to fourteen days later the caterpillar emerges and starts off by being black with a white band in the center. As it grows, it will be either a green and yellow or a black and yellow caterpillar.
After another 10 to 14 days of eating its host plant and growing, the caterpillar leaves the plant to transform into a chrysalis that blends into its new surroundings.
See the photos below to help you identify the Black Swallowtail butterfly, egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis.