Spicebush Swallowtail … what it needs and why that matters …


Pictured here is a spicebush swallowtail butterfly.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly.

If we want to have spicebush swallowtails, then we plant their host plant (the plant where mothers lay their eggs) which is, you guessed it, spicebush. Or also sassafras.

Spicebush supports 9 species of butterflies and moths, making it 93 on the Top 100 plants in Jefferson County (the plants that help wildlife most).

Sassafras supports 27 species of butterflies and moths, making it number 47 on the list of the Top 100.

This is a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar. It hind end is made to look like a tree snake. It can only eat spicebush and sassafras. These are its host plants. That’s where the mother lays her eggs.

What’s good for butterflies and moths is good for all wildlife, for two reasons. First, caterpillars are such an important food source for birds. Second, the plants that support butterflies and moths also support all insects, and insects are an incredibly important food source for too many animals to count.

“Insects are the little things that run the world.” — Edward O. Wilson (Harvard biologist and bestselling author).