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