Anise Swallowtail   Papilio zelicaon

Status:  uncommon resident

Flights:  1+, Mar-Sep

Distribution/known sites in Monterey County:  widespread, esp. on hilltops; Old Stage Rd., Fremont Peak, Jack’s Peak, Chalone Pks.

Habitats:  fields, lots, bare hills, roadsides; visits gardens

Host plants:  carrot family (Apiaceae), both native and garden - parsley, dill, hemlock, sweet fennel (anise; introduced from Europe)

Adult food:  frequents mud puddles

Conservation:  none required


  1.   often found in proximity of food plant

  2.   remains in one area prior to mating

  3.   fluctuations over several years often explained by pupal diapause, which may last 7 or more years

  4.   sexes similar, yellow-orange eyespot on HW upperside has black center not connected to HW margin

Life history facts

egg: laid singly on leaves and flowers

larva: young eat leaves, older eat flowers; if disturbed, caterpillar will sprout bright orange horns (osmeteria), from just behind head, which emit foul odor

pupa: hibernate

adult:  males patrol hilltops, both lower foothills and high summits, for receptive females

nectaring on buckwheat, N. Chalone Peak