Posts Tagged: Papilio zelicaon
It's a joy to see the anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) fluttering around in community gardens, bee gardens and parks.
Last weekend in a Benicia community garden, we spotted this sunny butterfly, as identified by Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, who monitors Central California butterflies and posts information on his website, Art's Butterfly World.
Its distinctive yellow, blue and blue colors remind us of the Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus).
Unlike the Western tiger swallowtail, however, the anise swallowtail has large patches of black on the front portion of its forewing.
You'll see the anise swallowtail around its host plant, anise, Foeniculum vulgare, a weed with a licorice scent. Anise swallowtails breed on the anise and poison hemlock, Conium maculatum, Shapiro says.
Last weekend in Benicia, the anise swallowtail took an interest in wild radish.
Check out the beautiful photos of the anise swallowtail on BugGuide.net, which says it was first described in 1852 by Hippolyte Lucas as Papilio zelicaon. That was during California's Gold Rush Days and a year later, in 1853, settlers introduced the European or Western honey bee to California.
Anise swallowtail visiting a community park in Benicia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Anise swallowtail foraging on wild radish. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
We have liftoff! Anise swallowtail leaves the wild radish. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Caterpillar of the anise swallowtail. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
An anise swallowtail fluttered in and out of the tall anise bordering the banks of the Benicia Marina.
A beautiful sight.
The female butterfly (Papilio zelicaon), as identified by butterfly expert Arthur Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, was probably laying eggs, he told us.
The butterfly is often confused with a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus). Their coloring does indeed look similar.
As for the anise butterflies, "they have several generations (late February or March-October) and breed very largely on sweet fennel ("anise"), Foeniculum vulgare, and (in the first half of the season) poison hemlock, Conium maculatum," Shapiro writes on his popular website, Art's Butterfly World. "Both of these are naturalized European weeds."
The larvae of the anise swallowtail use fennel as a food plant. Something else about anise: If you crush the leaves, they smell like licorice.
While we were watching the anise swallowtail, something else was watching her: an European paper wasp.
Wasps eat butterfly eggs.
Female anise swallowtail,Papilio zelicaon, as identified by butterfly expert Art Shapiro of UC Davis, visiting anise at the Benicia Marina. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A female anise swallowtail,Papilio zelicaon, touches down on anise at the Benicia Marina. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Up and away--the female anise swallowtail flutters away. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
European paper wasp, apparently scouting the anise for butterfly eggs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's called a complete metamorphosis--from an egg to a larva to a pupa to an adult.
Metamorphosis--Greek for "transformation" or "change in shape" is spectacular.
And it's particularly spectacular when the subject is the Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon).
Adult butterflies recently laid their eggs on anise (Pimpinella anisum), also known as fennel, in a friend's backyard in Fairfield. The eggs transformed into larvae (caterpillars) with coloring reminiscent of the adults.
We didn't see the first stage, the eggs, but did see the second stage, caterpillar and remnants of the third stage, an empty chrysalis.
One more butterfly flying around in Fairfield...
Anise swallowtail caterpillar on anise, also known as fennel.. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Empty chrysalis: an Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) emerged from this chrysalis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Adult stage: Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)