Growing Native- Black Swallowtail
The scientific name of the black swallowtail is Papilio polyxenes. Papilio is Latin for butterfly and the specific epithet polyxenes is from two Greek words and I think it means many guests. I could be wrong, but I liked my translation, because it made me think of all the larvae I would see on one fennel plant and that looked like many guests to me.
If you want to attract black swallowtail butterflies to your personal habitat in southeastern Arizona – of course you do – simply plant some plants in the parsley family Apiaceae and I guarantee that a female black swallowtail will find your parsley or dill, lay her eggs and before you know it, you will find tiny crawling bird poops eating your parsley and dill (see photo). At our house they were on fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). If you want to go native with a larval food plant, see if you can find a nursery that grows Thamnosa. Two species of these plants in the Rue family are found in Arizona, and near me in Cochise County you can find Thamnosa texana on the dry rocky slopes of the Dragoons and the Mules. And if you’re wandering those slopes you’ll probably see a black swallowtail or two as well.
A couple notes: the photos are mine and show the larvae at two stages eating fennel. As you can see they can be “many guests”. And then a photo of the chrysalis attached to a brickell bush stem from which a fully formed adult will ultimately exit as a Papilio polyxenes. Yay!