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


Remarks: 

  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