Anise Swallowtail Butterfly

by Jacki
(Grand Forks, B.C. Canada)


Anise Butterfly, newly hatched

After the first few warm days in May, you can expect to see brand new adult Anise Swallowtail butterflies, freshly hatched. They visit anything that’s blooming, including the dandelions opening in the lawn. Anything with nectar is fair game, and even potting soil if it’s damp enough will attract them.

For the first few weeks of the season, the sightings will be sporadic, as if it gets cool and cloudy, as early June tends to be, they hide and go into torpor, waiting for warmer days.

Flowers that attract them from June onwards are the many types and varieties of Sedum spurium, the first one blooming is Sedum spurium album Superbum, a white flowering variety. As the blooms in each cluster open in sequence, the number of butterflies increases.

Generally, the adults will sip nectar of many flowers, occasionally puddling for salts in compost or potting soil, and then the caterpillars are hosted on dill, rue and other related plants.

The characteristic orange and blue spots on the tail of the adult are how to identify these gorgeous creatures.

Comments for Anise Swallowtail Butterfly

Aug 31, 2018

Note to Voxleo
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

I bow to your superior knowledge about the species! Thanks for the correction. From now on, I’ll be sure to call it by the right name.

Aug 31, 2018

similar species correction
by: voxleo

This is actually an example of the “tiger” swallowtail species rather than the anise swallowtail. Interestingly, the mistake is usually made the other way around, with the more common anise being misrepresented as a tiger. The primary difference is the leading edge of the front wings: on the anise, this is primarily solid black with spots of yellow versus the yellow leading edge broken by tiger-like black stripes shown here, which provide the basis for the “tiger” swallowtail naming convention.