Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly / Papilio polyxenes. Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio polyxenes (order Lepidoptera, suborder Macrolepidoptera, superfamily Papilionoidea, family Papilionidae or swallowtail butterflies). There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica. Swallowtails differ from all other butterflies in a number of anatomical traits. The adults are often tailed like the forked tail of some swallows, giving the insect its name. Most notably, their caterpillars possess a unique organ behind their heads, called the osmeterium. Normally hidden, this forked structure can be everted when the caterpillar is threatened, and emits smelly secretions containing terpenes. Photographed in the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington, USA.Add to Cart Add to Lightbox Download