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 NameSpicebush Swallowtail by Roger Rittmaster => male, Durham Co.
[View PDF]
Click to enlarge
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Scientific NamePterourus troilus
Link to BAMONA species account.
MapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
DistributionDISTRIBUTION: Statewide, widespread in all three provinces; found in all counties.
AbundanceABUNDANCE: Widespread and generally common, though seldom seen in really large numbers; abundance is reasonably similar in each of the three provinces. It is the second-most commonly seen swallowtail (after Eastern Tiger) in the Piedmont.
FlightFLIGHT PERIOD: Late March to early October, and sparingly into December in mild autumns. A few records from late February into mid-March in recent years. Apparently two broods, with a possible partial third brood; main flights downstate are late March to mid- or late June, and early July to early October. September and October may represent a small third flight. The Mountain flight period is late March to late June, and early July to late September.
HabitatHABITAT: Generally along woodland borders and openings, both upland hardwoods and bottomlands. Prefers hardwood forests over pine or other conifer forests. Seen along wooded roads, powerline clearings, etc., but not common in deep woods. Not often seen in extensive open country, though at times wanders to gardens and suburban areas.
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Shrublands
PlantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: Despite the species' common name, the primary foodplant in the state is Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), though Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is also used. Nectar plants are highly varied, but milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are commonly used.
CommentsCOMMENTS: This species flies somewhat slower or less erratically than the Black Swallowtail and is thus easier to identify in flight. This species and the dark form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail are the most often seen dark swallowtails in the Piedmont, but the Pipevine Swallowtail may outnumber the Spicebush in many Mountain sites. Despite its name being Spicebush Swallowtail, most ovipositing in NC has been observed on Sassafras, which grows in full sun or partial shade, places favored by this swallowtail; the butterfly is actually not often seen in the vicinity of spicebushes, which typically grow in moderate to deep shade of forest interiors. Thus, "Sassafras Swallowtail" might be a better name for the species!
State RankS5
State Status
Global RankG5
Federal Status
SynonymPapilio troilus
Other Name

Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo Gallery for Spicebush Swallowtail
Photo by: Roger Rittmaster
Comment: Durham Co.
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Lori Arent
Comment: 2020-08-22. Durham Co. male
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Mark Shields
Comment: 2017-05-15. Scotland Co.
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Mark Shields
Comment: 2019-04-21. Onslow Co., male
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Bruce Grimes
Comment: female
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Parker Backstrom
Comment: Raven Rock State Park, Harnett Co.; 30-Apr-2006; female
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Joe Lafferty
Comment: female, 6-Aug-2009 at Sea Trail, Brunswick County
Spicebush Swallowtail - Click to enlarge