Swallowtail Similarities and Differences

Some swallowtail butterflies are quite similar. There are a few distinct methods to tell a difference between species as well as which is male and which is female. Let’s look at a few of them.

From the top, Tiger ST and Giant ST butterflies are not similar. They are two swallowtail species that have more yellow than black under their wings. From the underside, they are often mixed up with each other.

From underneath, they are very similar.

There are several black and blue swallowtails. Pipevine Swallowtails have a metallic blue, unlike the blue on black form Tiger, female Spicebush, and female Black Swallowtail butterflies.

Palamedes Swallowtail and male Black Swallowtails are very similar. The yellow in Palamedes hind wings blend into one yellow stripe. Male Black Swallowtails have distinctly separate yellow spots that create a yellow stripe on the hindwings.

From the side, one can see that the Spicebush has one orange spot missing on its hindwing. The Tiger has vertical tiger stripes, not always visible until it is in bright sunlight. Black Swallowtails have all the orange spots in place.

Pipevine Swallowtails have a tight J formation of orange spots on the outside of their hindwings. The formation of orange spots on other species is more relaxed, like a C or (.

Both Gold Rim (Polydamas) Swallowtails and Pipevine Swallowtails host on pipevine plants. It is easy to distinguish between the two species. Gold Rim Swallowtails have a gold/yellow band across their hindwings. The rest of their upper wings is black.

Male Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies have metallic blue, very striking in bright sunlight. Females have metallic black when sunlight hits their wings. Unless the sun hits her wings just right, her hindwings appear to be a simple dull black color.