Plants and Animals

Battus philenor Pipevine swallowtail

Key Characteristics

Wingspan 3.75-4.5 inches (9.5-11.5 cm). Hindwings tailed. Black with blue-green iridescence on hindwing upperside, very strong in male, weak in female. Small, white submarginal spots on both wings. Underside of hindwing with outer half brilliant iridescent blue, with a submarginal row of large round orange spots ringed with black. Mature caterpillars are velvety black or dark brown with about three paired rows of fleshy red tubercles along the body.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Cass 2 2017
Ingham 1 2012
Lenawee 3 2010
St. Joseph 2 1987
Washtenaw 1 2015
Wayne 1 2015

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Open fields and railroad embankments near oak-hickory woods. Open areas near deciduous woodlands, including gardens and beach areas. Eggs are laid in small clusters on Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria), wild ginger (Asarum sp.), or Dutchman's pipe.

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in: Dry-mesic southern forestFloodplain forestMesic southern forest.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Threats to this species include habitat loss or degradation due to invasive plants and non-consumptive recreation (e.g., ORV use) as well as use of pesticides and herbicides, loss of the host plant, Aristolochia, and lack of scientific knowledge. The sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Adequate and suitable habitat at these sites need to be maintained including sufficient densities of the species' host plants. In some cases, emphasis may be on restoration of highly degraded sites, with subsequent reintroductions. Management activities in or near known extant sites should utilize existing trails and avoid impacting areas with large concentrations of the hostplants. The reduction of ORV traffic by road closure also is recommended in or near known extant sites or areas with potential for the species to minimize adverse impacts to the species and its habitat. Additionally, surveys are needed to determine this species' status, abundance and distribution in the state. Research to obtain additional information on this species' life history and ecology and assess threats to this species also is warranted.

Active Period

Flight from fourth week of April to first week of October

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is by conducting visual meander surveys which consists of checking for this species near larval food plants, on adult nectar sources, and in mud puddles.

Visual, aerial net

Survey Period: From fourth week of April to first week of October

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Bouseman, J.K. and J.G. Sternburg. 2001. Field Guide to Butterflies of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign. 264pp.
  • Chapman, K.A., M.A. White, M.R. Huffman, and D. Faber-Langendoen. 1995. Ecology and stewardship guidelines for oak-barrens landscapes in the upper Midwest. Pp. 1-29 in F. Stearns and K. Holland, eds. Proc.of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conference, 1993. U.S. EPA, Internet Pubs. Available:
  • Cohen, J.G. 2001. Natural community abstract for oak barrens. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 8 pp.
  • Cohen, J.G. 2004. Natural community abstract for oak openings. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 13 pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Glassberg, J. 1999. Butterflies through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press, New York. 242pp.
  • King, R. 2000. Effects of single burn events on degraded oak savanna. Ecological Restoration 18 (4 Winter):228-233.
  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 1995. Forest stewardship training materials for oak-pine barrens ecosystem. Unpublished manuscript. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI.
  • Nielsen, M.C. 1999. Michigan butterflies and skippers: A field guide and reference. Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-2675, East Lansing. 248pp.