Anise Swallowtail

Papilio zelicaon



The Papilio zelicaon has physical attributes characterized by a hindwing with a yellow-orange eyespot near the tail in addition to a round black center that remains disconnected to the hindwing margin.  The anal cell of the hindwing margin is relatively yellow while the overall wing span is approximately 7.0-9.0 cm.  While the general habitat includes bare hills, mountains, fields and gardens, the general geographic distribution ranges from British Columbia to Baja California, New Mexico. As a caterpillar, the young Papilio zelicaon feeds on leaves while the older caterpillars utilize flowers as a food source.  The general caterpillar hosts include species within the parsley family and some plant species within the citrus family (1).  Studies have been conducted on the anise swallowtail in respect to deacclimation.  Findings displayed that the anise swallowtail cannot go through deacclimation during the cold snaps in the spring thus the result is mortality (2).

(1) “Anise Swallowtail Papilio zelicaon Lucas, 1852.” Butterflies and Moths of North America, Metalmark Web and Data,

(2) Williams, C. M., A. Nicolai, L. V Ferguson, M. A. Bernards, J. J. Hellmann, and B. J. Sinclair. 2014. Cold hardiness and deacclimation of overwintering Papilio zelicaon pupae. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology 178:51–58.

(Williams et al. 2014)

(Photograph) Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences