Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly - Eurytides marcellus

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Zebra Swallowtail Eurytides marcellus

Black and white strips decorate the wings of this beautiful swallowtail butterfly. Found in most states in the eastern US, females of this species of butterfly seeks pawpaw plants to lay her eggs.


Although eggs are cream/white when laid, before hatching, a ring develops around the egg. Hatchling and young caterpillars are black, resembling black tadpoles.


As the caterpillars become a bit older, they molt and develop stripes. Caterpillars eat pawpaw leaves.


Older caterpillars turn green with a blue stripe at the top of their thorax. Click on the first photo above this line to see the blue line. Spiracles are visible on these caterpillars, football shape marks on their sides. Butterflies breathe through their spiracles.


Caterpillars pupate into green or brown pupae. A chrysalis on something green or light will be green. A chrysalis on something dark will be dark. This serves as excellent camouflage.


Black and white strips give this butterfly formal attire.

Below: Butterflies can fly with the loss of most of their wing scales and with tattered wings. The butterfly below was drinking nectar in our garden. I took it to take photos of its tattered wings and let it go again. It flew up and landed over 20' high above the second story of our house. Click on the photo to see a larger image and the butterfly on the house.