Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Confusion of Butterflies: Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

The official names for a group of butterflies is rabble or swarm. However, in this case it was a confusion.

On a recent trip to Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County, Georgia, Butterfly Weed (Asclepia tuberosa) plants were in full bloom. And swallowtail butterflies were making the most of them. At the time, I thought I was looking at Pipevine Swallowtails (Battus philenor) although one butterfly had distinctly stronger markings. It wasn’t until I processed the images that I realized that I’d also been looking at a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio Troilus), the first I’ve ever seen.

They were flying frantically, just occasionally they would slow down enough for e to capture a good image. I captured two butterflies in this photo but, at one point, three swallowtails were feeding at this plant.

A Pipevine Swallowtail

A Spicebush Swallowtail in the foreground and a Pipevine Swallowtail in the background. The Pipevine Swallowtail has one row of spots on the underside of the forewing compared with the Spicebush Swallowtail which has two rows of spots on the underside of the forewing.

A close up of the Spicebush Swallowtail. Unfortunately I didn’t get a look at the underside of the wing of this butterfly.

Although both the Pipevine and Spicebush swallowtails are resident throughout Georgia, we see Pipevine swallowtails in our area and I've never seen a Spicebush swallowtail here.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
- Westcentral Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm:
- Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

- Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

- BugGuide:

- Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus):
[Dorsal] [Ventral]
- Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor):
[Dorsal] [Ventral]

Related post:
- Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

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