Black Swallowtail Surprise

Walking to school every morning has its benefits including today’s surprise sighting: a gorgeous newly emerged Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Photo of Black Swallowtail on NaturalCrooksDotCom

What Kind of Black Beauty?

When we first saw the dark wings and swallowtail-hind-wing extensions, we weren’t sure if we were seeing a Black Swallowtail or a black female colour variant of the more common Yellow Swallowtails. In our neighbourhood, Yellow Swallowtails are a fairly common sight in June.

We’ve seen the dark-variant females in our back yard before.

Photo of Black Swallowtail Drinking on NaturalCrooksDotCom

If you look below the antenna you can just make out two criss-crossing black lines: one is a leg then other is the butterfly’s proboscis which it’s using to sip moisture.

This butterfly had stopped to sip up moisture from between some interlocking driveway bricks. We stepped carefully closer making sure our shadows didn’t cross the drinker’s eyes.

The large number of yellow markings confirmed this was a Black Swallowtail.

Where Might Our Black Swallowtail Lay Eggs?

Well, upon reading at home, I discovered our particular Black Swallowtail was a male so it won’t be laying any eggs personally! The males have more yellow spots and fewer blue markings than the females. However, he might find a partner in which case eggs would be possible.

Photo of Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Kingston 2010 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

As children, my brothers and I had often seen the large green, yellow and black caterpillars of this kind of swallowtail growing fat on the carrot leaves growing in our garden. And we’d found one in that same back yard on my mother’s parsley a few years ago.

I haven’t seen any here at our home, though, so this year we’ll be keeping a closer eye on our parsley and our carrot leaves!


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Do you have Swallowtails in your neighbourhood? Have you seen them “puddling” on your lawn or sidewalk? Please share your sightings with a comment.

4 thoughts on “Black Swallowtail Surprise

  1. My teenage son called me and showed me this awesome green caterpillars , although it was on my favorite herb pot garden i did not disturb it and it kept munching on.I was thinking of moving it to bigger plant if is continued to munch vigorously,but it was too beautiful and I liked it there. Today my son called me again and ask me to see what pretty chipmunk was eating. I saw as he was enjoying something green and seemed to enjoy .it. I was little didisappointed but then that is a circle of life

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