Black Swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes

The Black Swallowtail is a common butterfly in Wisconsin. It commonly feeds on many different members of the Parsley family, including parsley, carrots, dill, and parsnip. It may also feed on Common Rue (Ruta graveolens), a domesticated herb.

Weekly sightings for Black Swallowtail

Identifying characteristics

Above: Black, with twin rows of yellowish spots on each wing. These markings are best defined in the male. Below: two rows of orange spots, and a yellow/orange hindwing cell spot, just to the inside of the submarginal band (orange colored in the top photo, this spot may be yellow or whitish).

Similar species

This species would most likely be confused with the Pipevine Swallowtail, which has only a single row of spots below, and the Spicebush Swallowtail, which has an orange spot on the costa of the hind wing above, and no yellow/orange hindwing cell spot.


Open areas; fields, meadows and parks where its larval hosts are found.


Two broods; early May and then in late July/August with the adults flying throughout August. A third brood may occur in the southern counties (Ebner, 1970).


Common throughout the state.

Late Black Swallowtail Sightings

Date County Reported by
Oct 15, 2006 Pierce Amanda Boyce
Oct 24, 2023 Ozaukee Ethan Brown
Oct 24, 2023 Columbia Julie Johnson
Oct 24, 2011 Dane Ann Thering
Oct 31, 2022 Ozaukee Cindy Harmeyer


Map showing sighting locations for Black Swallowtail
Map key
Black SwallowtailClick to enlarge

Muir SNA, Marquette Co., WI. July 31, 1999.

Black SwallowtailClick to enlarge

Caterpillar on parsley

Wautoma, Waushara Co., WI. June 28, 2002.

Black SwallowtailClick to enlarge

Female laying eggs on wild carrot

Jerseys Flats, Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest, Fond du Lac Co., WI. July 14, 2005.

Black SwallowtailClick to enlarge


Muir SNA, Marquette Co., WI. July 7, 2005.

Black SwallowtailClick to enlarge

Ocracoke Island, Hyde Co., NC. March 26, 2007.