Look for Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies in Southern States

Attract elegant zebra swallowtail butterflies to your yard by growing their favorite nectar plants. Also discover the host plant for their caterpillars.

Bnbbyc18 Susan Perren1Courtesy Susan Perren
Zebra swallowtail butterfly on a butterfly bush

How to Identify Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies

Zebra swallowtail butterflies are boldly zebra striped in black and white with red accents. Wings have bold black stripes on a white or teal-white background. Hindwings feature a red stripe on the underside and a lengthy tail. A red spot at the base of the wings creates a place for predators to aim away from the tiny body, increasing chances of survival. Adults that emerge in summer tend to have even longer tails than springtime broods. Their wingspan is 2 1/2 to 4 inches. Check out 6 common swallowtail butterflies you should know.

Gardening for Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies

Host Plants

As caterpillars, they feed on the leaves of the small pawpaw tree or others in its genus. The pawpaw tree is common in shady woods, especially in the south. Check out the top 10 butterfly host plants to attract pollinators.

Backyard Nectar Plants

These butterflies enjoy nectar from blueberry, blackberry, lilac, redbud and milkweed. Check out more summer nectar flowers that attract butterflies.

Shutterstock 1327683092 0001Shutterstock / Kevin Collison
Zebra swallowtail caterpillar

What Do Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillars Look Like?

The caterpillars vary in color. Some are mostly green, while others are greenish or black with yellow stripes. Learn how to plant a caterpillar cafe in your butterfly garden.

Where Do Zebra Swallowtails Live?

This species typically inhabits wide open areas to feed. To breed, it travels to wooded spaces around swamps and rivers. You’re most likely to see these butterflies in southern states. They range from the eastern parts of the Great Plains to the southern parts of the New England states.

Range Map

Zebra Swallowtail Map

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines as a time and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds, and attended various festivals, including Sedona Hummingbird Festival, Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival and Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.