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Black Butterfly Monday... | by pieceoflace photography
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Black Butterfly Monday...

Good morning everyone and I hope you had a nice weekend. For Butterfly Monday I thought I'd feature a short series on Black Swallowtails. More specifically about how to tell the difference when viewing them laterally.


Regionally we have a total of six swallowtail species. Of the six, there are three species where both gender are black (i.e. no other color forms), starting with the above Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus). The other two are the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) and Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). Telling them apart laterally as pictured in this seres is not always easy so I thought I would share a couple tips on how to tell the difference at a quick glance.


The two most difficult to tell apart laterally are the Spicebush and Black Swallowtail since to the casual eye they appear identical. Both have two rows of orange marks on the underside of the wings where as the Pipevine only has one as seen in the second photo in the comment section. Between the three, the Pipevine is the easiest to distinguish laterally because of this. The other two are more difficult, but the easiest way to tell them apart is to look for the third orange mark, which on the Spicebush is missing as noted above. The Black Swallowtail, as seen in the first pic in the comment section, has an orange mark in the third position.


I know, the last thing you needed today was a butterfly identification lesson. Hopefully you'll find the two tips helpful as I did when I first learned them.


Next week I'll post a few more photos of these pretty swallowtails, including some open wing shots.


Thank you for stopping by...and I hope you have a truly nice day and week.




ISO400, aperture f/8, exposure .003 seconds (1/350) focal length 260mm

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Taken on August 12, 2012