Gold Rim Butterfly – Battus polydamas

The Gold Rim (also called Polydamas) butterfly is found in Florida and Texas. The Battus polydamas butterfly is the only tail-less swallowtail in the US.

Gold Rim eggs are golden/yellow. They are often laid in clusters. In contrast, although Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies also lay eggs in clusters, their eggs are burgundy red. Eggs are normally laid on fresh growth.

Young caterpillars are very social and stay close together as they feed, molt, and rest.

Larger caterpillars often move to different areas of the vine to eat. Some will eat only a bit of the leaf and the petiole of the leaf, causing the rest of the leaf to fall to the ground, useless.

Gold Rim and Pipevine caterpillars are very similar. The Gold Rim caterpillar has gold running from one filament, across its ‘forehead’ and part way up the other filament.

Although they often pupate on the vine itself, if it is a fairly large vine, they also will wander over 100′ to find a location that suits them. They attach themselves with silk (from their spinnerets that are located underneath their heads). They also make a silk girdle and duck their heads and upper bodies into the girdle before pupation. A day after they attach themselves, they will literally wriggle out of their cuticles. The old cuticle falls to the ground and what remains is the chrysalis. A chrysalis is literally a skinned caterpillar.

A few weeks or months later, the adult butterfly will emerge. Because swallowtail butterflies overwinter as chrysalises, those that pupate in the late fall may not emerge until spring.

In bright light, a metallic blue sheen can be seen on the adult butterfly’s wings.

Gold Rim Swallowtail – Polydamas Swallowtail – Host plants

Most plants that the Gold Rim Swallowtail caterpillars eat are are not host plants for Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars. They both host on Aristolochia plants. When purchasing a plant for either species, it is best to buy the plant by its botanical name instead of by its common name. There are quite a few species that are called “Dutchman’s Pipe”. A “Dutchman’s Pipe” may or may not be the specific species that you wish to purchase and plant in your yard.

Some of their host plants grow huge and are aggressive. We advise gardeners to look up the size of the mature plant before you choose a spot in which to plant it.

Host plants:

Pipevine Swallowtail and Polydamas (Gold Rim) Swallowtail Host Plants

*Most if not all of these plants go by the common name Dutchman’s Pipe which is why the scientific name is so important.


Pipevine Swallowtail:

  • Aristolochia tomentosa (wooly pipevine)
  • Aristolochia fimbriata (white veined pipevine)
  • Aristolochia macrophylla or Aristolochia Durior (Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia pandurata synonym of Aristolochia odoratissima L (fragrant Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot) (one plant is never large enough to raise even one caterpillar)
  • Aristolochia clematitis (birthwort)
  • Aristolochia trilobata (Dutchman’s Pipe)

Gold Rim / Polydamas Swallowtail host plants:

  • Aristolochia elegans (calico flower)
  • Aristolochia pandurata synonym of Aristolochia odoratissima L (fragrant Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia trilobata (Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia gigantea (Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, Giant Pelican Flower)
  • Aristolochia tagala (Indian birthwort)
  • Aristolochia fimbriata


Both will eat:

  • Aristolochia fimbriata
  • Aristolochia trilobata


Neither will eat:

  • Aristolochia ringens (gaping Dutchman’s pipe)
  • Aristolochia brasiliensis (Dutchman’s pipe)


*this information is to the best of our knowledge from either firsthand experience or from experience of others.