Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 3 1/8 to 5 1/2 inches (7.9-14 cm). Upper surface is black-brown with a broad yellow band and a row of yellow spots near outer wing edges.  Undersurface hindwings have a bbue band surrouded by rows of yellow-orange spots; a narrow yellow line runs parallel to the body near the base of the ventral hindwing. Butterflies appear "browner" with age, as scales are lost.

ID Tip: A narrow yellow line runs parallel to the body near the base of the ventral hindwing--no other black-colored swallowtail in Alabama has this line.

Egg: Yellow-green globes laid singly on new growth of host leaves.

Caterpillar: Early instars resemble bird droppings.  Final instar are green with a yellow lateral line edged with black.  There is a pair of eyespots behind the head,complete with a black “pupil,”yellow “eyelid,” and a white “reflection.”

Chrysalis: Mottled green.  The overwintering stage.


 The Palamedes Swallowtail occurs more frequently in Alabama’s Coastal Plain.  It has been described as the poster child for the southern swamp, but is also common in any wetland that supports Redbay. 

Palamedes and Spicebush Swallowtails are closely related species—just look at their caterpillars. 

Distribution and Abundance

A dot on the county map indicates that there is at least one documented record of the species within that county. In some cases, a species may be common throughout the county, in others it may be found in only a specific habitat. The High Count information shows the highest numbers recorded for this species as well as when and where they occurred.

The sightings bar graphs depict the timing of flight(s) within each of three geographic regions. Place your cursor on a bar within the graph to see the number of individuals recorded during that period.

The abundance calendar displays the total number of individuals recorded within each week of the month. Both the graphs and the calendar are on based data collection that began in 2000.

The records analyzed here are only a beginning. As more data is collected, these maps and graphs will paint a more accurate picture of distribution and abundance in Alabama. Submit your sightings to

Sightings in the following counties: Baldwin, Bibb, Bullock, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Covington, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Hale, Mobile, Monroe, Washington

  • Map Symbol for Recent Sightings Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Map Symbol for Semi-Recent Sightings Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Map Symbol for Old Sightings Sightings more than 10 years ago

High count(s):

  • 45 - Baldwin - 9/3/2016
  • 24 - Baldwin - 3/14/2016
  • 24 - Baldwin - 4/9/2016
County Distribution Map

View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
15 25 36 21 47 54 34 8 4 13 7 6 12 26 11 2 8 4 13 39 33 52 18 55 18 5 19 1 1 1


Southern swamplands and upland areas where redbays (Persea spp.) grow.

Host and Nectar Plants

Shrubs in the Laurel family (Lauraceae) are reported.  Redbays (Persea spp.) are most commonly named, although Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is also mentioned.

These host plants have been verified in Alabama: Redbay (Persea borbonia) and Swamp Bay (Persea palustris).  The non-native Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora) has also been documented but should not be planted in the landscape due to its invasive tendancies.

For more information about the documented host plants and/or nectar plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the following links:

Landscaping Ideas

Swallowtails are avid nectarers and are especially attracted to native wildflowers such as milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), Joe Pye Weeds (Eutrochium spp.), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), blazing stars (Liatris spp.), and phloxes (Phlox spp.).  Flowering trees and shrubs such as Chickasaw and American Plum (Prunus angustifolia and P. americana), Coastal Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) and native azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) are also important nectar sources.