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Black Swallowtail Butterfly

New Jersey State Butterfly

Male black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) official state butterfly of New Jersey. Photo by Dean Morley / Flickr (use permitted with attribution/no derivative works).

Official State Butterfly of New Jersey

The beautiful black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) was designated the official state butterfly of New Jersey in 2015, and signed into law by Governor Christie on January 11th, 2016 (New Jersey also recognizes an official state bug). All State Insects

New Jersey 216th Legislature; Senate No. 939

An Act designating the Black Swallowtail butterfly as the New Jersey State Butterfly ...

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail butterfly is one of the most familiar and most studied butterflies in North America, and is widely admired for its beauty; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail is indigenous to New Jersey, and can be found in each of the State's 21 counties; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail is a large, black butterfly with two rows of yellow spots near the margins of its forewings and hindwings, and more subtle red-orange and blue markings on its hindwings; and

WHEREAS, Adult Black Swallowtails have a wingspan of up to four inches, with females typically larger than males with an iridescent blue band between the yellow bands while the male has a more pronounced yellow band on the hindwings with a blue cloud under it; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail's mature caterpillar is smooth and green, marked with black bands and bright yellow spots, and is familiar to gardeners throughout the State; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail can be seen in New Jersey between the months of April and October, and is most active between May and July with its chrysalis overwintering in New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, Habitats of the Black Swallowtail are generally open areas like wetlands, fields, flat-woods, pine savannahs, farms, and gardens; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail is attracted to a variety of cultivated herbs like celery, dill, parsley, and sweet fennel, as well as wild herbs like Golden Alexanders and Queen Anne's lace, all of which grow in New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail is non-destructive to commercial agriculture, and pollinates many cultivated flowers and crops; and

WHEREAS, The ease with which Black Swallowtails can be raised from egg to adult during the school year will provide generations of school children exciting opportunities to learn about butterfly life cycles and expand their awareness of pollinators and the critical role they play in our food supply; and

WHEREAS, Many states across the country have designated an official State butterfly to accompany their other State symbols, but New Jersey, despite its great wealth of indigenous butterflies, has never made such a designation; and

WHEREAS, The Black Swallowtail is a fitting and proper addition to New Jersey's other State symbols; and

WHEREAS, By designating the Black Swallowtail as the State butterfly, the State government recognizes the vital roll played by butterflies and other pollinators in the State's agricultural industry and the ecosystem; now, therefore,

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey: The Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) is designated as the New Jersey State Butterfly.