Wisconsin Native Caterpillars
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Genus-Species: Papilio polyxenes
Description: Young caterpillars resemble bird droppings:
dark brown with white “saddle.” Older larvae are bright green with black dashes and yellow dots
that form bands on each body segment. This coloration is cryptic: it camouflages them with their
environment. However, caterpillar color is variable and some be predominantly black.
Chrysalis: Mottled brown or gray; or green with yellow
highlights. Color depends on season and surface texture. The short day lengths (photoperiods)
of fall produce brown pupae.
Host Plants: Alexanders - Heart-leaved golden
alexander (Zizia aptera), Golden alexander (Zizia aurea), Yellow pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima),
Sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii), Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) and Angelica
Habitat: Open areas; fields, meadows and parks where
its larval hosts are found.
Comments: The Black Swallowtail is a common
butterfly in Wisconsin. It commonly feeds on many different members of the Parsley family,
including parsley, carrots, dill, and parsnip. It may also feed on Common Rue (Ruta graveolens),
a domesticated herb.