What Is This #AZCritter? Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

By Arizona Science Desk
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 2:00pm
Updated: Friday, October 21, 2016 - 2:19pm
(Photo by Carol Harvey | Graphic by Ambar Favela)
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What Is This #AZCritter?

A visitor to Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park east of Superior found these red caterpillars. We asked Dawn Gouge, an entomologist at the University of Arizona, for an explanation.

What Is It?

“The very beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor,” Gouge said. “Also called the blue swallowtail due to the black and iridescent blue/green wings of the adult butterflies. Pipevine Wwallowtails can have a wingspan over three inches so these are spectacular butterflies.”

Where Do They Live?

They are found in fields, gardens, roadsides and along streams in Arizona, New Mexico, California and south into Mexico.  They can be seen February to November in the low desert of the Phoenix Metro area, Gouge said.

Are They Dangerous?

“Host plants for the caterpillars include pipevine plants, which convey toxins to the caterpillars and butterflies, similar to the way monarch butterfly caterpillars become toxic due to their feeding on milkweed,” Gauge said. “So don’t eat them!”

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