Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
subtribe - BATTINA
Huachuca, Arizona, USA
© Frank Model
Battus, and the related genera
Euryades are not true Swallowtails, but are members of the
Troidini, the same tribe to which the giant
Ornithoptera Birdwings of Papua New Guinea belong.
There are 12 Battus species most of
which are confined to tropical and sub-tropical areas of Central and
South America. Two species however - polydamas
and philenor, have ranges that extend
into the southern United States.
The upper wing surface of
species is similar to the underside but has a slight greenish sheen
and lacks the submarginal red spots. Some
Battus species e.g. devilliersii,
zetides and certain races of
philenor have tails on the hindwings,
but the remainder are tail-less.
Battus philenor occurs is 5 subspecies,
distributed variously from the southern states of the USA to Mexico.
It also appears as a vagrant as far north as southern Canada.
species occurs in sagebrush, coastal grasslands, and open areas
within or adjoining deciduous or subtropical evergreen woodlands.
The eggs are orange, and
are laid in small clusters of up to about 15, on the stems and
petioles of the larval foodplants. The fully grown larva is black or
reddish-black, with a double row of yellow or orange dorsal
tubercles. It has short dark fleshy protuberances along the sides,
and a pair of long dark forward-pointing protuberances on the first
thoracic segment. It fees diurnally on
Aristolochia vines ( Aristolochiaceae ), and reportedly also
sometimes on Calonyction (
Convolvulaceae ), and on Polygonum (
Polygonaceae ). The larvae sequester toxins from the vines, and
these afford them a degree of protection against insectivorous birds
and reptiles. The toxins are inherited by the pupae and adult
butterflies. The pupa occurs in green or pale brown colour forms,
and has a series of flat plate-like dorsal protuberances. It has a
contorted appearance, like a twisted bit of leaf. The green form is
usually found attached to leaves or green stems, while the brown
form predominates in pupae formed on woody twigs or branches.
imbibe mineralised moisture from damp ground, sometimes forming
aggregations of a dozen or more. Both sexes nectar at Lantana, Aster,
Cirsium and the flowers of various other herbaceous plants and shrubs.