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Old 10-04-2002, 05:42 PM
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"Swallowtail Butterflies" Zebra Swallowtail


Zebra Swallowtail
Eurytides marcellus



Description 2 3/8-3 1/2" (60-89 mm). Long triangular wings with swordlike tail. Above, chalk-white to hint of blue-green with black stripes and bands; HW above has 2 deep blue spots at base and bright scarlet spot closer to body. Below, black-bordered scarlet stripe runs through middle of HW. Width of black stripes and length of tails vary with season and brood: spring zebras are paler, smaller, shorter tailed; summer individuals are larger and darker with very long white-edged tails, exceeding 1" (25 mm). Antennae rust-colored.

Similar Species Dark Zebra has straight, parallel black and white markings near margins; more heavily black with black antennae.

Life Cycle Green egg. Caterpillar, to 2 1/8" (54 mm), banded with black and yellow, band on hump broader than others. Overwintering chrysalis, to 1" (25 mm), is green or brown, stockier and more compact than that of other U.S. swallowtails. Host plant is pawpaw (Asimina triloba) in North and other Asimina species in South.

Flight March-December in 4 broods on Gulf, April-October in 2 broods in Midwest; 1st brood most numerous.

Habitat Waterside woodland passageways, shrubby borders, meadows, riversides, lakeshores and marshes; absent from mountains.

Range Lake States and Ontario, east to S. New England, south along Atlantic to central Florida and Gulf, and west to E. Great Plains.

Discussion The aptly named Zebra is the most abundant regular North American representative of the kite swallowtails, named for their triangular wings and long sharp tails. Despite a large range, the Zebra occurs only near pawpaw or its relatives - it usually fails to adapt to suburban growth and development of the countryside. Yet the Zebra is very common along the banks of the Potomac near Washington, D.C., and by small rivers in Virginia. Formerly called Graphium marcellus.

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