A Tribute to Butterflies

White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)
White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)

Florida has a diverse and fascinating insect population, but it is the butterfly that has been a constant in every green space I have ever managed, and it is my very favorite insect of all. They come in all shapes and sizes, they visit every type of habitat, all types of flowers and plants, and many gardens.  I am particularly fond of the small, obscure, butterflies which are easily overlooked and underappreciated.

Many butterflies are becoming scarce because they require natural areas with wildflowers and native grasses in order to thrive. Pesticide use and habitat loss are the biggest threats to these delicate creatures. I encourage everyone to leave a bit of wild space and avoid poisons that devastate our pollinators, including (especially!) the butterflies.  Pesticides and herbicides are highly toxic, and dangerous, as well as unnecessary! Natural weed and pest control methods exist and I have had great success with this over the years. 

Many of the smaller butterfly varieties are atrociously difficult to photograph! They are just so fast and flighty that I have spent countless hours snapping, and deleting photos of these speedsters.  I hope you get inspired to attract as many of our native butterflies to your habitat as you possibly can!

American Lady

A beautiful lady indeed.

Her native host plants are in the aster family (Asteraceae) and include field wormwood (Artemisia campestris subsp. caudata), cudweeds (Gamochaeta spp.), and ironweed (Vernonia spp.).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the American Lady.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
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Cabbage White

The cabbage white is a very tiny butterfly and generally goes unnoticed.¬† It tends to feed on vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli so is not a welcomed guest if you’re a vegetable grower.

Its native host plants are in the mustard family (Brassicaeae) and include American searocket (Cakile edentula), bayleaf capertree (Cynophalla flexuosa), spring cress (Cardamine bulbosa), and Jamaican capertree (Quadrella jamaicensis).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Cabbage White.

cabbage white (Pieris rapae) butterfly
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
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Carolina Satyr

The Carolina satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius) is a tiny brown butterfly that stays low to the ground in wooded areas.

It’s native host plants are in the grass family (Poaceae)¬†and include wood oats (Chasmanthium spp.), paspalum (Paspalum spp.), signal-grass (Urochloa spp.), and may also use St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Carolina Satyr.

Carolina satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius)
Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius)
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Cassius Blue

The Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius) is one of the tiniest butterflies.  Its inside wings are blue and about the only way to notice it is when it opens its wings to show a brief flash of blue.  It is found in open areas along woodlands.

Its native host plant is in the plumbago family (Plumbaginaceae).  Our native plumbago is called doctorbush (Plumbago zeylanica). 

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Cassius Blue.

cassius blue (Leptotes cassius)
Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)
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Ceraunus Blue

This is another tiny blue butterfly that rarely gets noticed.  It stays low to the ground and skirts the edges of disturbed sites and woodlands.

Its native host plants are in pea family (Fabaceae) and include the butterfly peas (Centrosema spp.), milkpeas (Galactia spp.), and hairy cowpea (Vigna luteola).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Ceraunus Blue.

Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)
Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)
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Cloudless Sulphur

A brilliant yellow butterfly that is a fast flyer and rests underneath the leaves of shrubbery.

Its native host plants are in the pea family (Fabaceae) and include privet wild sensitive plant (Senna ligustrina), Maryland wild sensitive plant (Senna marilandica) and sicklepod (Senna obtusifola).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Cloudless Sulphur.

You can also check out my article on the Cloudless Sulphur.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
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Common Buckeye

A lovely brown and orange butterfly that doesn’t get enough respect.¬†

Their host plants are in the broom-rape family (Orobanchaceae), and include false foxgloves (Agalinis spp.), Canadian toadflax (Linaria candensis), American bluehearts (Buchnera americana) and black senna ( Seymeria spp.).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Common Buckeye.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
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Dainty Sulphur

A very tiny sulphur butterfly that always stays very low to the ground near fields and disturbed sites. 

Its native host plants are in the aster family (Asteraceae) and include Spanish needles (Bidens alba) and the other Bidens species.

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Dainty Sulphur.

Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)
Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

This is a fast, strong, high flyer.¬† It’s host plants are trees and it is usually high up in the tree canopy.

Its native host plants are in the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae) which include tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), and sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

You can also check out my article on the Tiger Swallowtail.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
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Eufala Skipper

A small blonde skipper.

Its native host plants are in the grass family (Poaceae) and include silver plumegrass (Saccharum alopecuroides), narrow plumegrass (Saccharum baldwinii) and sugarcane plumegrass (Saccharum giganteum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Eufala Skipper.

Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)
Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)
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Fiery Skipper

A beautiful, deep rusty orange, colored skipper. 

Its native host plants are in the grass family (Poaceae) which include crabgrass (Digitaria spp.), and possibly St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Fiery Skipper.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
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Giant Swallowtail

A giant butterfly that impressively floats amongst the garden flowers and trees. 

Its native host plants are found in the citrus family (Rutaceae) and include sea torchwood (Amyris elemifera), hoptree (Ptelea trifoliate), prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), Hercules’ club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis), and lime prickly ash (Zanthoxylum fagara). They also use citrus trees.

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Giant Swallowtail.

You can also check out my article on the Giant Swallowtail.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
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Gray Hairstreak

A rather dull gray butterfly except for the orange hindwing spots.  They are common in disturbed sites and any place their host plants grow. 

Its host plants are in the pea family (Fabaceae).  Native plants in this family include the ticktrefoils (Desmodium spp.), and milkpeas (Galactia spp.).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Gray Hairstreak.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) laying eggs on a milkpea vine
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Great Southern White

A rather drab looking white butterfly, but in flight it is really beautiful.

It’s native host plants are in the mustard family (Brassicaeae) and include¬†American searocket (Cakile edentula), bayleaf capertree (Cynophalla flexuosa), spring cress (Cardamine bulbosa), and Jamaican capertree (Quadrella jamaicensis).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Great Southern White.

Great Southern White (Ascia monuste)
Great Southern White (Ascia monuste)
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Gulf Fritillary

A brilliant burnt orange butterfly that is a fast flyer.

Its native host plants are in the passionvine family (Passifloraceae) and include purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea), and corkyste passionflower (Passiflora suberosa).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Gulf Fritillary.

You can also check out my article on the Gulf Fritillary.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
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Horace's Duskywing

A little brown skipper that barely gets noticed, but loves visiting wildflowers.  

Its native host plants are in the oak family (Fagaceae) which include all of our oaks (Quercus spp.).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Horace’s Duskywing.

Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
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Long-tailed Skipper

A little brown skipper with a furry green back and long tails.  

Its host plants are in the pea family (Fabaceae) and include the native legumes ticktrefoil (Desodium spp.), pigeon wings (Clitoria spp.) and butterfly pea (Centrosema spp.).  They will also use garden beans as host plants. 

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Long-tailed Skipper.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
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Monarch

Of course, the most famous butterfly of all! 

Its native host plants are in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) and include milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), fragrant swallow-wort (Cynanchum northropiae), white twine-vine (Funastrum clausum), Florida milkvine (Matelea floridana), trailing milkvine (Matelea pubiflora), and leafless swallow-wort (Orthosia scoparia).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Monarch.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
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Palamedes Swallowtail

A very beautiful swallowtail that tends to stay high up in the tree tops in search of places to lay its eggs.

Its native host plants are in the laurel family (Lauraceae) and include love vine (Cassytha filiformis), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), pondspice (Litsea aestivalis), lancewood (Ocotea coriacea), bay trees (Persea spp.), and sassafras (Sassafras albidum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Palamedes Swallowtail.

Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes)
Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes)
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Pearl Crescent

A tiny little checkered butterfly that is so fast you often wonder if it was really there at all.

Its native host plants are in the aster family (Asteraceae) and include the climbing aster, Elliott’s aster, rice button aster and other Symphyotrichum species.

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Pearl Crescent.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
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Phaon Crescent

Another tiny little checkered butterfly extremely similar to the pearl crescent.  It tends to inhabit moist, or low lying, areas where its host plant grows.

Its native host plant is in the vervain family (Verbenaceae) and is turkey tangle foot (Phyla nodiflora). Some people still call it frogfruit.

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Phaon Crescent.

Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)
Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)
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Pipevine Swallowtail

A dark swallowtail that tends to stay in woodlands where its host plants grow.

Its native host plants are in the birthwort family (Aristoliaceae) and include Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria) and wooly Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia tomentosa).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Pipevine Swallowtail.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)
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Polydamas Swallowtail

This is another dark swallowtail that doesn’t get noticed often.

Its native host plants are in the birthwort family (Aristoliaceae) and include Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria) and wooly Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia tomentosa).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Polydamas Swallowtail.

Polydamas Swallowtail (Battus polydamas)
Polydamas Swallowtail (Battus polydamas)
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Queen

This is the one everyone confuses with the monarch.¬† It’s easy to do considering they use the same host plants and hang out in the same environment.

Its native host plants are in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) and include milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), fragrant swallow-wort (Cynanchum northropiae), white twine-vine (Funastrum clausum), Florida milkvine (Matelea floridana), trailing milkvine (Matelea pubiflora), and leafless swallow-wort (Orthosia scoparia).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Queen.

Queen (Danaus gilippus)
Queen (Danaus gilippus)
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Question Mark

These butterflies use rotting fruit, tree sap, and carrion as food sources in addition to visiting flowers.  

Its native host plants are in several different families including the hackberry family (Celtis) which includes the iguana hackberry (Celtis iguanaea), hackberry (Celtis laevigata), the elm family (Ulmaceae) which includes winged elm (Ulmus alata), American elm (Ulmus americana), and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia), and the nettle family (Urticaceae) which includes heartleaf nettle (Urtica chamaedryoides) and dwarf nettle (Urtica urens).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Question Mark.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
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Red Admiral

They especially like moist fields directly next to woodlands.

Its native host plants are in the nettle family (Urticaceae) and include false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), Florida pellitory (Parietaria floridana), clustered pelitory (Parietaria praetermissa), heartleaf nettle (Urtica chamaedryoides), and dwarf nettle (Urtica urens).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Red Admiral.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
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Red-Banded Hairstreak

A small gray hairstreak with bands of red-orange and white.

Its native host plants are in the bayberry family (Myricaceae) including Northern bayberry (Morella caroliniensis), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), and in the sumac family (Anacardiaceae) which includes winged sumac (Rhus copallinum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Red-banded Hairstreak.

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)
Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)
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Red-spotted Purple

This dark butterfly looks like a tail-less swallowtail but is actually in the family of the brush-footed butterflies.  Its host plant are trees so it tend to stay higher up in the tree canopy and not seen that often.

Its native host plants are in three different families: the mallow family (Malvaceae) which includes the Carolina basswood (Tilia americana var. caroliniana), the rose family (Rosaceae) which includes the plums and cherries (Prunus spp.), and the willow family (Salicaceae) which include cottonwoods (Populus spp.) and willows (Salix spp.)

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Red-spotted Purple.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)
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Sachem Skipper

A quick little skipper that moves so much you can barely get a good look.

Its native host plants are in the grass family (Poaceae) which include crabgrass (Digitaria spp.), and possibly St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Sachem Skipper.

Sachem Skipper (Atalopedes campestris)
Sachem Skipper (Atalopedes campestris)
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Silver-spotted Skipper

A pretty large skipper with beautiful white and orange patches.

Its host plants are in the pea family (Fabaceae) and the native ones they prefer are the false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) and cluster-spike indigo (Amorpha herbacea var. herbacea).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Silver-spotted Skipper.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
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Sleepy Orange

A medium sized sulpur.

Its native host plants are in the pea family (Fabaceae) and include privet wild sensitive plant (Senna ligustrina), Maryland wild sensitive plant (Senna marilandica) and sicklepod (Senna obtusifola).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Sleepy Orange.

Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)
Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)
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Southern Skipperling

Another tiny and fast skipper that is hard to get a good look at.

It’s native host plants are in the grass family (Poaceae) and may include wood oats (Chasmanthium¬†spp.) paspalum, (Paspalum spp.), signal-grass (Urochloa spp.), and St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum). It also uses the non-native Berrmuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Southern Skipperling.

Southern Skipperling (Copaeodes minima)
Southern Skipperling (Copaeodes minima)
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Spicebush Swallowtail

Another gorgeous swallowtail.

Its native host plants are in the laurel family (Lauraceae) and include love vine (Cassytha filiformis), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), pondspice (Litsea aestivalis), lancewood (Ocotea coriacea), bay trees (Persea spp.), and sassafras (Sassafras albidum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Spicebush Swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
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Swarthy Skipper

A tiny little dark brown skipper that is very quick.

Its native host plants are our native bluestem grasses which are in the grass family (Poaceae) and are (Andropogon spp.).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Swarthy Skipper.

Swarthy Skipper (Nastra lherminier)
Swarthy Skipper (Nastra lherminier)
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Tropical Checkered Skipper

A tiny little checkered butterfly that shimmers in the sunlight.

It’s native host plants are fan-petals which are in the mallow family (Malvaceae) and include bracted fan-petals (Sida ciliaris), Elliott’s fan-petals (Sida elliottii), Indian hemp (Sida rhombifolia) and common fan-petals (Sida ulmifolia).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Tropical Checkered Skipper.

Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus oileus)
Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus oileus)
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Viceroy

A striking orange and black butterfly that is sometimes confused with the queen and monarch butterflies.

Its native host plants are in the poplar family (Populus) white poplar (Populus alba), Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoids) and the willow family (Salicaceae) coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana) and Florida willow (Salix floridana).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Viceroy.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
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Viola's Wood-Satyr

A small brown butterfly with rows of spots on the back edge of its wings. It tends to stay low to the ground and hides in underbrush.

Its native host plant is St Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) which is in the grass family (Poaceae).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Viola’s Wood-Satyr.

Viola's Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)
Viola's Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)
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Whirlabout Skipper

A tiny, fast moving, little skipper that takes after its name because it’s always on the move.

Its native host plants are in the grass family (Poaceae) and include paspalum (Paspalum spp) and may also include St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Whirlabout Skipper.

Whirlabout Skipper (Polites vibex)
Whirlabout Skipper (Polites vibex)
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White Peacock

A beautiful medium sized butterfly in shades of gold, cream and bronze.

Its native host plants are in the plantain family (Plantaginaceae) which are lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana), tropical water hyssop (Bacopa innominata), and herb-of-grace (Bacopa monnieri). It also uses turkey tangle foot aka frogruit (Phyla nodiflora) which is in the vervain family (Verbenaceae).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the White Peacock

White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)
White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)
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Zebra Longwing

A beautiful medium sized black butterfly with yellow stripes.

Its native host plants are in the passionvine family (Passifloraceae) and include purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea), and corkyste passionflower (Passiflora suberosa).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Zebra Longwing.

You can also check out my article on the Zebra Longwing.

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)
Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)
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Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra swallowtails use¬†paw paws (Asimina spp.) as their host plants.¬† Since paw paws grow in very specific native habitats these butterflies are hardly ever seen unless you hike into natural areas.¬† If you’re lucky enough to have some natural areas, with paw paws, in your green space you’re way ahead of the rest of us.

Its native host plants are in the custard apple family (Annonaceae) which includes the pond apple (Annona glabra) and the paw paws (Asimina spp.).

Check out Butterflies and Moths of North America’s detailed information for the Zebra Swallowtail.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
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