Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrids. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing Notes 8/10/17-8/15/17:
Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrid pupae. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing notes 7/29/17-8/5/17:
Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrid fifth instar larvae. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing notes 7/26/17-8/1/17:
Here we compare the fifth instar larvae of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius), anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) and a ♀ Papilio polyxenes asterius × ♂ Papilio zelicaon hybrid cross.
This will probably the last post with all three types of larvae together, seeing as they are almost done growing and it's getting a bit redundant.
As the larvae grew larger, the differences started to become a little less obvious, especially between the hybrid and Papilio zelicaon. The hybrid does still has slightly smaller and rounder color spots, though. The pure P. polyxenes asterius still maintains a very distinctive look with the very small and circular color spots, even though they do actually break the black bands a bit now. In terms of shape, the hybrid larvae is noticeably shorter and thicker, as if it inherited the bulky body of P. zelicaon and the fat thorax of P. polyxenes asterius. The hybrid larvae are also moderately variable in color form (strip thickness, color of the spots, shade of green, etc.) , unlike the P. polyxenes which pretty much all look identical.
Both the P. zelicaon and the hybrid larvae are fond of flowers (seemingly prefer them over the leaves) and are comfortable sitting in the open sun. The P. polyxenes asterius only occasionally nibble at the flowers and appear to be indifferent towards them. The P. polyxenes asterius is also the only one that consistently regurgitates when violently handled. Interestingly, the hybrids seem to use their horns more frequently than either species.
Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrid fourth instar larvae. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing notes 7/23/17-7/25/17:
Papilio polyxenes, zelicaon, & ♀ polyxenes asterius × ♂ zelicaon Fourth and Fifth Instar Comparisons
Here we compare the fourth and fifth instar larvae of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius), anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) and a ♀ Papilio polyxenes asterius × ♂ Papilio zelicaon hybrid cross.
The hybrid larvae are still behind, so there quite aren't any fifth instars yet. However, we still took some more photographs of the fourth instar compared to the two pure crosses.
The hybrids are truly perfect intermediates, no matter if they are dark or light forms. They share the same bulgy, shiny appearance as Papilio zelicaon, but aren't quite as spiky. The light forms seem to be patterned similar P. polyxenes asterius in the amount of white they have but still have thicker black bands than the pure breed and have broken saddles. Both the dark and light forms have smaller spots than Papilio zelicaon like P. polyxenes asterius. A good way to look at it overall is that the P. zelicaon are messy, the P. polyxenes asterius are smooth and clean, and the hybrid are just in between.
There are lots of fifth instar P. polyxenes asterius now, and they look distinctly different than P. zelicaon fifth instars. The P. polyxenes asterius still have much smaller and more circular spots such that they don't break the black bands and the spots on the thick thoracic band of P. zelicaon are still mostly absent. Because of this, they actually look blacker than P. zelicaon despite all being much lighter in the fourth instar. The greenish white bands seems to be to be much more even, at least for now, without any blue bands mixed in between that are common in P. zelicaon. The shape of the P. polyxenes asterius resembles tigers much more than P. zelicaon because they are so long and skinny with very large thoraxes; P. zelicaon tend to be slightly more bulgy between segments. Overall, the P. zelicaon are much more cryptic on flowers than the P. polyxenes asterius may seriously reflect on the different climates that they come from and what they feed on. In fact, we have put in some flower for the P. polyxenes asterius to see if they will feed on it and so far they have not.
As for size, it now seems that the P. polyxenes asterius might actually have a chance to get bigger. They certainly look larger in the photos, but it is unknown just how much they have fed already. In the fourth instar, the P. polyxenes asterius seemed just slightly smaller with most at o.3 whereas 0.4 dominates P. zelicaon based on previous rearings. Very surprisingly, we now have a single 0.5 g P. polyxenes asterius which is the rare maximum for P. zelicaon, so there is clearly a lot of variation. But no matter what they are in the fourth instar, the fifth instar is the bulk of the growing so anything could happen. . .
Here we compare the fourth instar larvae of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius), anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) and a ♀ Papilio polyxenes asterius × ♂ Papilio zelicaon hybrid cross.
Now that our hybrid ♀ Papilio polyxenes asterius × ♂ P. zelicaon larvae have molted to fourth instar, we can compare them with the pure breeds. As before, the hybrid seems like a pretty good intermediate. The fourth instars are light forms like P. polyxenes asterius and look almost identical except for a few minor differences. The black stripes on the saddle are not quite complete, unlike P. polyxenes asterius, but are also not as broken as light form P. zelicaon; the black stripes are also slightly thicker than P. polyxenes asterius in general. The tubercles of the hybrid seem also to be intermediate between the two species. Like P. polyxenes asterius, there are no spots on the thick thoracic stripe close to the head. This all seems to be pretty compelling evidence that the color form is a genetic trait and not just environmental.
On 7/23, a few more hybrid larvae molted to fourth instar and are of a darker form than the first one. Compared to P. zelicaon dark forms, they have more distinct white stripes between the segments and some have a more solid looking saddle like third instar P. polyxenes asterius third instars.
Comparing the fourth instars of the pure breeds again now that they have reached the end of the instar, we see that the P. polyxenes asterius is still much smaller and less thick. The tubercles are much reduced in proportion to the body in the P. poyxenes asterius, making them look much like fifth instar P. zelicaon. Surprisingly, they are not actually very green despite being light forms. The spots of the P. polyxenes asterius are very small, which goes well with the very fine and complete black bands, and are invariably yellow. In P. zelicaon, orange seems to be more common in the fourth instar and, according to some sources is a genetically determined dominant trait. For some reason, the P. polyxenes asterius also seems to have a slightly more thickened thorax, giving it a more tiger-like larval shape.
Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrid third instar larvae. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing notes 7/20/17-7/22/17:
Here we compare the third and fourth instar larvae of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius), anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) and a ♀ Papilio polyxenes asterius × ♂ Papilio zelicaon hybrid cross.
Now that we have mature third instar larvae of all three types of larvae, we decided to compare them side by side. The major difference between Papilio polyxenes asterius and P. zelicaon third instars is the amount of white. The latter always has a checkered white saddle and has minimal white dots along the body, especially near the rear. The P. polyxenes asterius larvae have a more or less solid chunk of white on for the saddle where even the tubercles are white, allowing the faint yellow spots there to be more easily seen. Another obvious difference is the size; P. zelicaon is indisputably larger, which would make a lot of sense because they have much larger eggs that hatch into larger first instars. As for the hybrid larvae, it is intermediate in size between the two species (perhaps even as large as P. zelicaon since the individual in the picture isn't quite full grown) but has a pattern that matches much more closely to P. polyxenes asterius. Some of the spots at the rear are blacked out though.
We don't quite have any fourth instar hybrid larvae yet, but we can compare the fourth instars of the pure breeds. The fourth instar P. polyxenes asterius larvae is a markedly different thing than the P. zelicaon. Like the third instar, the P. polyxenes asterius is much lighter (all of the fourth instars, reared indoors, we have so far are light whereas only a very small percentage of indoor reared fourth instar P. zelicaon are light), even lighter than the light form fourth instar P. zelicaon in the photographs. In fact, the P. polyxenes asterius could almost pass as a newly molted fifth instar P. zelicaon because the white saddle is completely gone. All of the black stripes there are complete and consistent, unlike P. zelicaon light form larvae, and the tubercles are extremely reduced. Another indisputable difference that could not possibly be from natural variation within the species are the dots on the thickest thoracic stripe right before the head. The P. polyxenes asterius larvae are completely lacking in them, a characteristic that is completely unique to the fifth instar in P. zelicaon.
Rearing notes for our ♀ black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) × ♂ anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) hybrid second instar larvae. The mother was obtained from Cleveland, Ohio and the father from Albany, California.
Rearing notes 7/18/17-7/19/17:
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations on and experiences with various insects in Albany California and surrounding areas, from 2012-2017. Since we did not publish this site until 2016, posts before that were constructed retroactively. Starting in August 2017, we moved to Ithaca, New York; posts from there on can be viewed at Timeline 2017-present: Ithaca, New York.
August 2017 (49)
July 2017 (121)
June 2017 (79)
May 2017 (77)
April 2017 (91)
March 2017 (35)
February 2017 (12)
January 2017 (10)
December 2016 (12)
November 2016 (26)
October 2016 (49)
September 2016 (84)
August 2016 (94)
July 2016 (99)
June 2016 (53)
May 2016 (21)
April 2016 (4)
January 2016 (1)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (3)
June 2015 (2)
June 2014 (3)
May 2014 (1)
April 2014 (3)
March 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (5)
September 2013 (11)
August 2013 (15)
July 2013 (9)
June 2013 (5)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (2)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (2)
December 2012 (2)
November 2012 (1)
October 2012 (2)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (1)
June 2012 (1)
Full Species List
(Alphabetical by scientific name)
- Not every species we encounter is necessarily presented on this site, rather a selection of those that were of particular interest to us and that we felt were worth documenting.
- We can't guarantee that all species have been identified accurately, particularly taxa we are not as familiar with.
Battus philenor hirsuta
Coenonympha tullia california
Langia zenzeroides formosana
Orthosia hibisci quenquefasciata
Papilio machaon oregonius
Papilio polyxenes asterius
Samia cynthia advena
Papilio glaucus × Papilio rutulus
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Araneae (Class: Arachnida)