There are approximately 550 different species of the swallowtail butterfly. They are large, come in various colors, and have a forked wing at the bottom of the abdomen, and frequently sports a “tail”. While all swallowtails are colorful, some of them have magnificent iridescent colors.
They, like all butterflies, start as an egg, develop into larva, then pupa, then adults. It has always intrigued me how a caterpillar can spin a web around itself to be encased in a “chrysalis”, and emerge as a beautiful butterfly. When I see a caterpillar, my first inclination is to destroy it underfoot. But, not so fast! It could be a beautiful butterfly in the making for our enjoyment.
The swallowtail, depending upon the species, feeds on various types of plants. Some of the more common types of food are: milkweed (sometimes called butterfly plant or flower), birch, cottonwood, cherry, tulip, etc. The adult likes the nectar in almost all flowers. If you want to attract them, try planting some of the wild flowers like milkweed, or anise herbs. One of the largest monarchs I have ever seen was feeding on anise.
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