Polydamas Swallowtail (Vanessa virginiensis) life history
Polydamas Swallowtail (Battus polydamas) Life History

Egg, 6-3-14

Neonate, 6-4-14

First instar, 6-6-14

Second instar, 6-8-14

Third instar, 6-10-14

Fourth instar, 6-14-14

Fifth instar, 6-18-14

Chrysalis, 6-24-14

Fresh adult Polydamas Swallowtail, ventral view, 7-6-14

Fresh adult Polydamas Swallowtail, dorsal view, 7-6-14

I have several ornamental Pipevines (Aristolochia, possibly elegans) growing at the house for the explicit purpose of hosting Polydamas Swallowtails. The swallowtails have used the vines once, in the spring of 2010; naturally, I wasn't paying close enough attention and the caterpillars were half-grown before I realized they were Polydamas and not Pipevine Swallowtails. Since then, I have learned some subtle differences between the immature stages of the two species. Polydamas eggs are yellowish, while Pipevine Swallowtail eggs are deep orange. Polydamas hatchlings have two light bands just behind the head, and the early instars have several yellow/orange setal bumps; at these stages Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars are uniformly colored. From the third instar onwards, the visible striping on the body of a Polydamas Swallowtail caterpillar clearly distinguishes this species.

The pupae of these caterpillars were all green. In 2010, several of the pupae were brown (both colors also had the yellow wash visible in the photograph to the right). I have read that the color of the chrysalis can be influenced by the color of the object on which the caterpillar pupates.

The eggs of this study came from a friend in Harlingen, whose vines get more use than mine. Two caterpillars were successfully reared; they took 20 days to go from egg to pupa. The adults emerged 12 and 13 days after pupating.

Polydamas Swallowtail Page