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Zoom Butterflies
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
Eurytides marcellus


Zebra Swallowtail butterfly
The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly is a common butterfly with distinctive black and white markings and elongated tails on its hindwings It also has some small red and blue hindwing markings and strongly-scalloped hindwing margins. The caterpillar is yellow-green with black and yellow stripes. The Zebra Swallowtail has a wingspan of about 3.75-4.5 inches (9.5-11.5 cm).

They are called swallowtails because they have long "tails" on their hindwings which look a bit like the long, pointed tails of swallows (a type of bird).

DESCRIPTION AT EACH STAGE OF THE LIFE-CYCLE
Butterflies and moths undergo complete metamorphosis in which they go through four different life stages. It takes about a month for the egg to mature into an adult.
Egg: A butterfly starts its life as an egg. The female Zebra Swallowtail lays its spherical, pale green eggs singly on the Pawpaw (Asimina triloba).
Caterpillar: The larva (caterpillar) hatches from an egg and eats leaves almost constantly. It is green with one black stripe and many yellow stripes (there is also a darker form of this caterpillar which is black with yellow and white stripes). Larva eat Pawpaw (Asimina triloba). The caterpillar is pea green with yellow and black bands. They are cannibalistic.
Pupa: It turns into a pupa (chrysalis); this is a resting stage. As the body transforms into a butterfly, it neither eats nor drinks. A silken girdle helps hold up the pupa. Some pupa delay emerging and overwinter before emerging.
Adult: A beautiful, flying adult emerges. There is no growth during this stage, but the butterfly will sip nectar. This adult will continue the cycle by reproducing. It has a wingspan of 3.75-4.5 inches (9.5-11.5 cm). The Zebra Swallowtail lives for about 6 months in its adult stage

Adults who emerge during the spring are smaller, paler, and have shorter tails than later broods. Summer broods are larger and darker than the spring broods. Late autumn (October) broods are even larger and darker than the other broods.


DIET
The caterpillar's first meal is its own eggshell. After that, the caterpillars eat the pawpaw (Asimina triloba).

Butterfly headButterflies can only sip liquid food using a tube-like proboscis, which is a long, flexible "tongue." This proboscis uncoils to sip food, and coils up again into a spiral when not in use.

Zebra Swallowtails drink sweet flower nectar. Unlike most butterflies, they are also able to collect pollen from some flowers (with their proboscis). They digest the pollen, and absorb its amino acids (proteins). This extra nutrition lets them survive, mate and lay eggs for long periods (up to about 6 months).

PROTECTION FROM PREDATORS
Caterpillar: The larva has a gland on its neck that gives off a strong, unpleasant odor when the caterpillar is threatened, keeping away dangerous wasps and flies that try to lay eggs in the caterpillar. This gland, called an osmeterium, is orange, y-shaped, and on the larva's neck.

Butterfly: The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly is not a poisonous butterfly, and does not mimic any poisonous species.

HABITAT AND RANGE
The Zebra Swallowtail is found from Southern Ontario, Canada, Minnesota and Wisconsin to New England to Florida and the Gulf States.

LIFE SPAN
It takes about a month for the adult to develop (from egg to pupa to adult).

PRINTOUT
Zebra Swallowtail printout for elementary school students.

CLASSIFICATION
Order: Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)
Family: Papilionidae (apollos, swallowtails, and birdwings)
Genus: Eurytides (Kite swallowtails)
Species: marcellus

Information Sheets About Butterflies (and Moths)

Just click on an animal's name to go to that information sheet. If the butterfly (or moth) you're interested in isn't here, check the Butterfly Dictionary.

Monarch Butterfly

Queen Alexandra's Birdwing Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly


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