New Jersey Butterflies

Spicebush Swallowtail

Papilio troilus

Identification: Very large—about 4.1" (larger than Monarch). Above: Mostly black but with blue on HW and a row of pale (often pale bluish) spots along FW and HW margins. Lacks pale spot near front edge of FW seen in Black Swallowtail. Below: Mostly black but with blue on HW and 2 rows of orange spots. The inner row has one orange spot missing (in Black Swallowtail this row is complete).

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Common and widespread throughout.

Range Map-Spicebush Swallowtail

Habitat: Open, sunny, upland fields, wet meadows, and forest edges. Easily attracted to gardens with flowers such as Butterfly Bush, Purple Coneflower, Wild Bergamot, and milkweeds.

Flight Period: Mid-April to mid-October with peaks in late spring (May-early June) and mid-late summer (August). Extreme dates: North Jersey 4/17—10/20; South Jersey 3/28—11/3.

Larval Food Plants: Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), a native shrub of wet woods; and Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), a native deciduous tree of upland forest edges and hedgerows.

Overwintering Stage: Pupa.

Best Locations: Whittingham WMA, Schooley’s Mountain CP, Merrill Creek Reservoir, Willowwood Arboretum, Bamboo Brook, Great Swamp NWR, Kay Environmental Center, Riverwinds Scenic Trail (West Deptford), and Belleplain SF.

Comments: Planting (or not cutting down) Northern Spicebush and Sassafras on your property will almost guarantee you the pleasure of seeing adults in your garden as well as their spectacular larvae.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Male, Delaware Water Gap RA, Sussex Co., NJ, 7/24/07.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Female, Kittatinny Valley SP, Sussex Co., NJ, 7/12/10.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Watchung Res., Union Co., NJ, 8/12/12, on Field Thistle.

Spicebush Swallowtail egg

Spicebush Swallowtail egg on Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).

Spicebush Swallowtail larva

Late instar of Spicebush Swallowtail on leaf of Sassafras (Sassafras album).

Spicebush Swallowtail pupa



Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) in fruit. This common shrub is one of 2 main host plants for Spicebush Swallowtail.


Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).