Wild South Florida — Gold Rim Swallowtail Butterfly
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Gold Rim Swallowtail Butterfly
Gold Rim Swallowtail Butterfly  

This swallowtail lacks a swallowtail. Which is why the gold rim swallowtail, Battus polydamas, is also known as the tailess swallowtail. Got that? It took us a while to figure it out, we have to admit. It sort of resembles a giant swallowtail but the yellow lines are limited to the back edge of the wings, and of course it doesn't have a swallowtail (see the photo below). But that's another story. It is the only swallowtail sans tail in the eastern United States. It's also known as the polydamus swallowtail. It is large as butterflies go, with a wingspan of two inches.

gold rim butterfly

giant swallowtail

Its native range is Florida and The Bahamas, but it will wander as far north and west as Kentucky and Missouri. Its host plants are pipevines, of which the best known is probably Dutchman's pipe. A female will lay a small cluster of eggs on the leaves; when hatched the young will devour the plant, taking in aristolochic acid, which makes them distasteful to predators. The caterpillars will hang out together when young, but become more solitary as they mature. The adults are particularly fond of the nectar of the lantana camara and also pipevine vines. Habitat for the gold rim swallowtail is open woods. It flies year round in Florida. We found these at Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton.

A giant swallowtail, pictured at left.

gold rim butterfly
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