Short-tailed swallowtail (Photo by Sue Labbe, CC-BY-NC)
A medium-sized butterfly in the swallowtail family, this species has two bands of yellow spots and a blue wash on rounded, black wings. It has a red-orange spot with a black centre on its hindwings. Young larvae are brown with white markings, later developing green and black bands.
It can be distinguished from another butterfly in this range, the black swallowtail, by its shorter tail and rounder forewings.
The short-tailed swallowtail has three subspecies. The brevicauda subspecies can be found on the island of Newfoundland and on Anticosti Island, in Quebec. The bretonensis subspecies occurs on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and in New Brunswick. And the gaspeensis subspecies is found in Quebec and recently in Maine.
Two of the subspecies are unique to Canada.
This species makes its habitat in coastal areas. In the larval stage, it feeds on Scotch wild lovage and other plants of the parsley family.
A strong flyer, this butterfly species is often found along the coast. Adult short-tailed swallowtails are in flight from June to July.
Only the brevicauda subspecies of this butterfly appears to be secure. The bretonensis and gaspeensis subspecies are both of conservation concern.
What is NCC doing to protect habitat for this species?
Short-tailed swallowtails need habitat and host plants to lay eggs and feed. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) protects natural areas within the range of short-tailed swallowtail around the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This species has been recorded at NCC’s Miscou Island, Point Escuminac Nature Reserve and Tabusintac Estuary properties in New Brunswick.