Butterflies of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance

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Scientific Name begins with:
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Once on a species account page, clicking on the "View PDF" link will show the flight data for that species, for each of the three regions of the state.
Other information, such as high counts and earliest/latest dates, can also been seen on the PDF page.

Related Species in PAPILIONIDAE:
<<       >>
Common NameBlack Swallowtail by Nancy Baldwin => female, Yancey Co.
[View PDF]
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[Google Images]     GBIF [Global Distribution ]     BoA [Images ]
Scientific NamePapilio polyxenes
Link to BAMONA species account.
MapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
DistributionDISTRIBUTION: Statewide; found in all provinces, and undoubtedly occurs in all counties.
AbundanceABUNDANCE: Overall, uncommon to fairly common. Somewhat more numerous near the coast than elsewhere, and it may be common locally in some tidewater sites. Despite it being considered a common butterfly in the eastern United States, it is not a common butterfly in NC. Interestingly, caterpillars are often seen on garden plants (in the umbel family), but adults seldom seem to be numerous.
FlightFLIGHT PERIOD: Early or mid-March to mid-October; rarely to early November, with a few records until the end of December. There are apparently three broods, but the species has a continuous flight period, with no gaps in the flight season. In the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, abundance peaks in July and August.
HabitatHABITAT: This species likes open country and is seldom seen in forests or even along forest edges. It prefers old fields, meadows, marshes, savannas, gardens, and other open places.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
PlantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: Foodplants are species in the umbel family, such as Queen-Anne's-Lace (Daucus carota); both native and introduced species are used. Adults nectar on many species, such as milkweeds.
CommentsCOMMENTS: This can be a difficult species to identify. First, it has a very rapid and erratic flight, making it difficult to identify on the wing. Second, it can be confused with Spicebush, Pipevine, Palamedes, and female Eastern Tiger swallowtails unless seen well when perched. This identification problem may account for its relative uncommonness -- many blackish swallowtails seen flying by the observer must be left unidentified, and it is suspected that a fair percentage of these are Blacks. Even so, it is not nearly as numerous as the Eastern Tiger, Spicebush, and Palamedes swallowtails in NC.

This is one of the few species as familiar to butterfly gardeners as to field biologists. In some areas, Black Swallowtails are most easily found in yards and gardens, thanks to plantings of non-native foodplants such as Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Garden Parsley (Petroselinum crispum).
State RankS5
State Status
Global RankG5
Federal Status
Other Name

Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo Gallery for Black Swallowtail
Photo by: Signa Williams
Comment: Preparing to pupate
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Joe Lafferty
Comment: 2017-07-11. Brunswick Co.
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Will Stuart
Comment: July 1, 2020. Anson Co. male
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Will Stuart
Comment: July 1, 2020. Anson Co. female
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: David L. Heavner
Comment: 14 July 2013. Surry County. male
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: W. Cook
Comment: Mating pair, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Orange Co., NC on 10-Apr-2005.
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Floyd Williams
Comment: Gates Co., Merchants Millpond State Park - male
Black Swallowtail - Click to enlarge