Parides Butterflies

close up of an exotic butterfly with black, red and white markings and green leaves behind it

One of our regulars in the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing is the Parides butterfly commonly called Cattlehearts. They belong to the family Papilionidae, which makes them a close relative of swallowtails, but they’re not actually swallowtails.

In a neat trick of evolutionary survival, the primary food for the larvae is Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia), which contains a toxin that’s distasteful to birds and other predators. The bright, distinctive coloration also protects the butterflies because in the wild, many of the most toxic or bad-tasting insects are also the most colorful, signaling to experienced predators to stay away.

By Nathan Brockman, Curator of the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing