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Anise Swallowtail

Papilio zelican
Photo Source: http://www.faroutflora.com/tag/pipevine-swallowtail/

Habitat: The Anise Swallowtail can be found throughout Alberta and depending on the weather, out of the pupa stage as early as late April continuing on until mid-August. It is primarily a forest butterfly but can sometimes be found in the prairies and in alpine regions.

Description: This butterfly comes in two colour forms, the typical yellow colour and a black version.  The best way to distinguish this butterfly from other Swallowtails is the round eye spot that can be found on the red patch of the hind wing.

Size: 65-80 mm

Diet: This butterfly loves dandelions and the caterpillars eat solely from the carrot family like fennel and anise.  Hence the name.

Fun Facts: In the first half of their larval stage, the larva look just like bird droppings.  Now that’s camouflage!


Acorn, John. Butterflies of Alberta. Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishing, 1993. Print

Mitchell, Robert, and Herbert S. Zim. Butterflies and Moths. Racine: Western Publishing Company Inc.,1987. Print

area wildlife + plants

Canada Thistle
Cirsium arvense
Alternate, oblong leaves that have spiny lobes (prickles) all along the outside.  Purple or pink flowers that may be spiny at the top.  Look like pink furry balls on the top of the plant.
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