There are about 600 species within the family Papilionidae. The family is made up
of 3 subfamilies, the Parnassiinae, which has about 50 species of Parnassians and
Apollos that are found mostly in the montane regions of the nothern hemisphere, the
Baroniinae, which has only 1 species, Baronia brevicomis from western Mexico, and
the Papilioninae, which has about 550 species found worldwide. The subfamily Papilioninae
is further divided into 4 tribes, the Teinopalpini, which include 2 species from
the Himalayas, the Leptocircini, which has about 140 species and includes kite Swallowtails,
the Papilionini, which has over 200 worldwide species and includes the fluted swallowtails,
and the Troidini, which has about 130 worldwide species including the birdwings as
well as the Aristolochia Swallowtails in which Battus philenor belongs to.
Battus philenor is a common dark swallowtail found in the southern United States
in a variety of open habitats usually near deciduous woodlands. It avidly collects
nectar and is a common garden visitor. Males can also be found in numbers imbibing
minerals from the edges of lakes, rivers, and puddles on gravel roads. Battus philenor
caterpillars eat noxious pipevines and sequester toxic chemicals from them which
persist into adulthood, eggs and pupae. These chemicals make the butterfly very
distasteful to predators and many other species mimic this butterfly in order to
gain protection. These other species include the Spicebush Swallowtail, the female
Black Swallowtail, black morph of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the Red-Spotted
Purple, and the female Diana Fritillary.
Larval hostplants include pipevines. Some of the more common are Dutchman’s Pipe
and Virginia Snakeroot. Larvae consume the entire plant.
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