Queen swallowtail butterfly


Queen swallowtail butterfly

Papilio androgeus laodocus

Brazil, São Paulo

Z.1982.307.251

The adult butterflies are beautiful. Their caterpillars however look like bird poo. This useful disguise helps disguise them from hungry predators.

Where can you see them?  You are most likely to see them between April and October when the adults are in flight in tropical forests from Florida in North America down to Brazil and Argentina in the South.

What do they eat? The larvae feed on the leaves of Citrus (Citrus spp.) and Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum spp.) trees. The adults feed on the nectar of various flowers but will also feed on mud and carrion.

Are they endangered? This species is not currently threatened. They cope well in open areas, secondary forest and citrus groves so rely less on the primary rainforest than other many other species.

Why are they important? Butterflies are important pollinators for the plants they visit to get nectar from. Caterpillar poo returns energy and nutrients from the living plants they eat back to the growing forest.