Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

Giving Tuesday, November 30. Please consider a gift to BugGuide!

BugGuide is a National Moth Week Partner. How to add your National Moth Week 2021 photos. July 17-25.

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

National Moth Week 2020 photos of insects and people.

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Previous events


Subspecies Papilio polyxenes asterius - Black Swallowtail

Unknown Larva - Papilio polyxenes Black Swallowtail - Papilio polyxenes - male caterpillar 3 - Papilio polyxenes Black Swallowtail-Sanilac - Papilio polyxenes black swallowtail? Charleston - Papilio polyxenes - male Black Swallowtail - Papilio polyxenes Papilio polyxenes - male Mystery Butterfly #1 - Papilio polyxenes
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Papilionidae (Swallowtails, Parnassians)
Subfamily Papilioninae
Tribe Papilionini (Fluted Swallowtails)
Genus Papilio
Species polyxenes (Black Swallowtail - Hodges#4159)
Subspecies asterius (Black Swallowtail)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Papilio polyxenes asterius Stoll, 1782
See species page for general information.

This is the subspecies found over most of North America eastward from the Rocky Mountains. It is replaced in the Desert Southwest by ssp. coloro with which it apparently intergrades, and westward from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast by Papilio zelicaon with which it sometimes hybridizes.
Adults are nearly always predominantly black, and individuals with reduced yellow markings (especially females) are common. Occasional individuals may turn up anywhere that are predominantly yellow (and look much like yellow form ssp. coloro and P. zelicaon), but they are rare.
There are other, mostly very different looking subspecies found south beyond the United States to as far as Ecuador and Peru (perhaps further south?).
The subspecies polyxenes was described from Cuba. It is said by some to be extinct, and looked a LOT like subspecies asterius. Subspecies asterius is the one apparently still found there.
Internet References
Papilio polyxenes asterius at Butterflies of America