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Discover the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly


Last updated 4/8/2021 at 1:05pm


Village News/Deanna Bell photos

The Anise Swallowtail butterfly feeds on nectar plants.

FALLBROOK – The Anise Swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon Lucas, is a giant yellow butterfly that can be commonly seen throughout most of the United States. This unique little creature is found in the western part of North America and is the featured butterfly in Wings of Change's monthly seminar, April 17. See details below.

The Anise Swallowtail is found from British Columbia southeast to North Dakota. They span south to Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Baja California and Mexico. Their habitats include hills, mountains, gardens, fields, vacant lots and roadsides. They take one migration flight from April to July.

The adult butterfly ranges from 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches in wingspan and encompasses a pale yellow color on its inner wings with black stripes. Additionally, they have a black marginal band created by separate yellow spots.

These pretty butterflies usually have small blue dots and two rust-colored dots toward the bottom of the wings. The outer wings are similarly colored but are primarily yellow. When eggs are laid, they are an orangish color.

The swallowtail caterpillar is quite a sight to be seen; they are very large green caterpillars with stripes formed from black, orange and blue dots. They are commonly mistaken as the Tomato Horn Worm or other pests; however, they are actually a beneficial creature.

When first seen, they may be very shocking and leave the viewer in a state of confusion. The caterpillars' chrysalis are shades of brown and look like tree bark with pointed ends.

During mating season, males patrol habitats in search of receptive females. After mating, the females lay single eggs on leaves and will lay up to four batches of eggs in a season, totaling up to 100 eggs. The larvae emerge from their egg after about four days.

The younger caterpillars will eat leaves while the older ones will feed on both leaves and flowers. They will typically molt five times, called instars, before pupating.


Village News/Deanna Bell photos

The Anise Swallowtail butterfly displays a pale yellow color on its inner wings with black stripes.

The adult Anise Swallowtail feeds on many nectar plants; they will land on any plant that will provide them a source of nectar. Their caterpillars host species of the parsley family such as dill, fennel and anise and some of their favorite nectar sources are the orange and avocado trees.

Visit Wings of Change's monthly seminar at the Fallbrook Community Garden Saturday, April 17, at 2 p.m. to learn more about the Anise Swallowtail and how to help create a habitat for them at home. Guest speaker Stephanie Holbrook will share her knowledge on creating butterfly habitats.

Visit to purchase tickets now. Additionally, they will have merchandise, seeds and other products for sale highlighting this month's butterfly.

For more information on how to be the change and promote an increase in butterfly species, visit or call 760-908-7454 for more information.

Submitted by Wings of Change.



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