The Zebra Swallowtail is a species of brightly-colored butterflies that got its name from its zebra-like looks, with alternating patterns of black and white markings on its four wings. The wings are somewhat triangular in shape with two sword-like protrusions at the end of the hind wings. When the wings are open, they show a white to greenish-white base with random black stripes and bands running vertically. The hind wings consist of a pair of two blue spots in the corner of the inner margin, as well as one red spot close to the end of the abdomen. When the wings are closed, each of the ventral sides displays a thin red stripe that runs through the middle part of the hind wing. The Zebra Swallowtail is the official state butterfly of Tennessee.


Zebra Swallowtail” by Sara Bright


Zebra Swallowtail Facts

Butterfly Family: Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilionidae)

Butterfly Subfamily: Papilioninae

Butterfly Wingspan: 2 1/2 – 4 inches

Butterfly Habitat: Breeds in moist low woodlands near swamps and rivers. Adults fly to nectar plants in open fields and brushy areas


Zebra Swallowtail Host and Nectar Plants

Host Plants:

  • Pawpaw Trees

Nectar Plants:

  • Eastern Redbud
  • Pawpaw
  • Zinnia
  • Buttonbush
  • Eastern Blue Star
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Common Milkweed
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Verbena
  • White Clover
  • Dogbane