2 3/4-3 3/8" (70-86 mm). Coal-black to dark gray above with brilliant, metallic blue, especially toward HW margin (male brighter than female); HW above has row of cream to yellow spots around rim. FW dull gray below; HW has row of big, bright orange spots curving through blue patch along margin and white marginal spots.
Female Spicebush Swallowtail, female Eastern Black Swallowtail, and dark female Tiger Swallowtail all have 1 or more orange spots on HW above.
Clustered, rust-colored eggs. Mature caterpillar, 1 7/8-2 1/8" (48-54 mm), rust-black with black or red projections, longest on head. Chrysalis, to 1 1/8" (28 mm), lavender to greenish-yellow or pale brown; has sculptured curves, angles, and horns. Host plants
are chiefly pipevines, Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) or Virginia snakeroot (A. serpentaria) in East and 2 other species (A. californica and A. longiflora) in West.
2 broods in North, 3 in South; January-October depending on latitude, late April-early autumn in New England.
Open woodlands, canyons, meadows, fields, gardens, streamsides, orchards, and roadsides.
S. Ontario and New England south throughout East to Florida, west through Nebraska and Texas to Arizona and California, north to Oregon; also south into Mexico.
Horticulture has caused the spread of pipevines, and thereby extended the range of this butterfly. The adult favors honeysuckle, swamp milkweed, orchids, buddleia, azalea, lilac, and thistle. But the distasteful host plants of its caterpillars give this swallowtail an unpleasant flavor, causing birds to avoid it. Several butterflies - female Eastern Black Swallowtail, dark female Tiger Swallowtail, female Spicebush Swallowtail, female Diana Fritillary, and Red Spotted Purple - have evolved so that they resemble the Pipevine Swallowtail. This kind of similarity, known as Batesian mimicry, may protect the mimics from predators.