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Species Papilio palamedes - Palamedes Swallowtail - Hodges#4182

Palamedes Swallowtail - Papilio palamedes - male Palamedes Swallowtail - Papilio palamedes Preparing to Pupate  - Papilio palamedes catepillar on fuschia in NC - Papilio palamedes Palamedes Swallowtail? - Papilio palamedes unknown Caterpillar - Papilio palamedes Papilio palamedes? - Papilio palamedes Papilio palamedes? - Papilio palamedes
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 palamedes (Palamedes Swallowtail - Hodges#4182)
Hodges Number
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Papilio palamedes Drury, 1773.
Renamed Pterourus palamedes (1) as of 2005, but Pterourus is not recognized as a valid genus by Opler & Warren and other sources - see comments on genus page.
Explanation of Names
Named for the mythological Greek inventor Palamedes, said to be inventor of a number of games, including dice. Perhaps the name is an allusion to the checkered patterns of the butterfly's wings.
Wingspan 11-13 cm.
Adult: very large swallowtail. Dark, resembling Black Swallowtail but yellow stripe on underside of wings is distinctive. Flutters wings constantly, as does Black Swallowtail.

Early instar larvae resemble bird-droppings, and are distinguished from Spicebush Swallowtail early instars by the white patch at the tail end. Later instar larvae are green on top, pinkish-brown beneath. Again, they resemble the Spicebush Swallowtail - the distinction is that on the first abdominal segment is an orange spot with a small blue spot near the leading edge. On the Spicebush Swallowtail larva, the blue spot is inside the orange spot.
Southeastern United States, extending into Central Mexico.
Wet forests and "bays" with hostplant.
March through December in northern part of range (2 flights). Third flight in southern part of range in US.
Larvae feed largely on Redbay (Persea borbonia).
Adults take nectar from a variety of sources. Favorites include thistles, native Azaleas such as Rhododendron atlanticum, and Coastal Sweetpepperbush (Clethra alnifolia).
Life Cycle
1. Caterpillar (early instar). 2. Caterpillar (last instar). 3) Caterpillar ready to pupate. 4. Pupa. 5. Adult female. 6. Adult male
A lovely and characteristic butterfly of southeastern swamps.
The Palamedes and Spicebush Swallowtails may face problems over the next several years associated with the introductions of the Redbay ambrosia beetle (RAB), Xyleborus glabratus, and the fungus causing laurel wilt.
Sightings of the palamedes across its range are NOW very important. There have been reports of significant decline across the Southeastern states from Florida to North Carolina. Populations along the Gulf seem stable, but decline is likely over the next few seasons. (per. Comm.)

Redbay ambrosia beetle (RAB), Xyleborus glabratus, and laurel wilt, caused by the fungus Raffaelea lauricola, together constitute an insect-and-disease threat. The redbay ambrosia beetle serves as an insect vector for the fungus causing laurel wilt, a destructive disease of redbay (Persea borbonia) and other trees in the laurel family, including swampbay (Persea palustris), sassafras (Sassafras albidium), spicebush (Lindera spp.), and pondspice (Litsea aestivalis). Lindera melissifolia is a federally listed endangered plant, and Litsea aestivalis is listed as a threatened plant in multiple states.
The non-native redbay ambrosia beetle was first detected in Georgia in 2002; the associated pathogen, a highly virulent, invasive, wilt-inducing fungus, is believed to have arrived in the United States along with the beetle. Investigators believe that RAB was introduced into the United States in wooden crating material from Southeast Asia. Both RAB and laurel wilt have been observed as far north as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Mortality has been documented to spread about 20 miles per year on average.
Redbay and swampbay are prominent species in North Carolina’s coastal plain. In addition, pondspice and spicebush are found in the coastal plain and sassafras is found throughout the state. Laurel wilt has the potential to extirpate (cause local extinction) of any of these species in the Lauraceae family from much of the coastal plain. As the insect and pathogen go through an area, all affected plants eventually wilt and die. Dead foliage persisting on plants in areas with high densities of bay species will create fire hazards due to dead, dry aerial fuels. Because redbay trees resemble young live oaks, they are popular choices for retention during development in urban areas along the coast.
Various species of wildlife would also be impacted by the reduction or elimination of laurel wilt host species. Songbirds, bobwhite quail, and turkeys often feed on the fruit, while deer and bears frequently feed on foliage and fruits of redbay and sassafras. Several rare species of swallowtail butterflies rely heavily on redbay, sassafras, and spicebush for completion of their life cycle. At this time, no reliable controls exist for either the Raffaelea lauricola fungus or the Xyleborus glabratus insect vector.
This is notification (March 2011) that redbay ambrosia beetles and the fungus that causes laurel wilt have been identified and isolated/confirmed in North Carolina - the Colly area of eastern Bladen County. There are indications that it may also be present in as many as four other nearby counties, but at this time we are awaiting confirmation before we can say for sure. However, even without proper confirmation we are sure that near future natural spread to nearby counties is imminent. Laurel wilt has been found to move about 20 miles/year naturally, but can move faster with assistance from humans moving redbay/swampbay firewood, wood chips, tree trimming debris and wood products.
RAB and laurel causes mortality in all Lauraceae species including bays (Persea spp.), Sassafras, pondspice and pondberry. Information about the insect/disease can be found at the bottom of this email. In addition, a comprehensive website about laurel wilt can be found at: Laurel Wilt
Print References
Brock (2)
Glassberg (3)
Scott (4)
Minno et al (1)
Works Cited
1.Florida Butterfly Caterpillars And Their Host Plants
Marc C. Minno, JERRY F. BUTLER, DONALD W. HALL. 2005. University Press Florida.
2.Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)
Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Co.
3.Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East
Jeffrey Glassberg. 1999. Oxford University Press.
4.The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide
James A. Scott. 1992. Stanford University Press.