My beautiful wildlife garden is a bit behind this year, but I can always count on having a healthy population of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies. The only host plants for this lovely creature are various species of Aristolochia.
Dutchman’s Pipevine (A. macrophylla) is native to the Eastern United States and is a fast-growing perennial vine that looks wonderful covering a fence.
After planting my first pipevine plant I had to wait three years for the first momma butterfly to find my yard. Every since then I’ve raised dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of pipevine swallowtails every year without fail.
The newly hatched baby caterpillars tend to eat together in groups for the first few days of their life. The pipevine plants contain chemical compounds that give the caterpillars some protection against birds and other animal predators.
Mature pipevine swallowtail caterpillars can be black or red. They eat for 10-15 days and will grow faster in hot weather. And by the way, they feel exactly like gummy bears!
All swallowtail caterpillar species have an unusual defense mechanism. When they feel threatened they extend a smelly gland called an osmeterium.
The next stage of development is the chrysalis. The pipevine swallowtail chrysalis comes in two different colors . . . green and brownish-grey.
During the heat of summer the butterfly develops quickly inside its chrysalis and emerges ready to fly in 7-10 days. If autumn is approaching soon, the butterfly remains in the chrysalis stage through the winter, finally emerging in the spring.
Pipevine swallowtail butterflies drink nectar from a large selection of flowers in your garden. But if you don’t supply their host plant so they can lay eggs, you may never see them at all.
Don’t Miss! Judy Burris’ Books:
Click Image for More Information
© 2013 – 2014, Judy Burris. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.