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The polydamas swallowtail butterfly is fairly uniform in appearance throughout North, Central, and South America, but it does displays considerable variation in the Caribbean, with almost every island featuring its own subspecies.
Polydamas swallowtails are also sometimes referred to as tailless swallowtails or as gold-rim swallowtails, based on the pattern of wing spots on their wings. As rapid flyers the butterflies are difficult to identify in flight, but once seen they are easily distinguished from other similar species. The adults are extremely active and will rapidly beat their wings even when sipping nectar or puddling.
Within their range, polydamas swallowtail butterflies are frequently found in open woods, abandoned fields, and disturbed areas such as construction sites and unpaved parking lots. In Belize, the species tends to avoid the deep forest, but may occasionally be found associated with the rainforest canopy. You will find polydamas swallowtail butterflies, from sea level up to 1,300 meters in elevation, particularly on disturbed slopes, which demonstrates their broad ecological tolerance for precipitation, humidity, and temperature.
The female polydamas swallowtails after mating lay eggs that are covered in a waxy coating - in clusters of 5 to 20 on the exposed new stems of a plant called the Pipevine. Young caterpillars feed on leaves in groups.
The caterpillars have a yellowish body bearing many fine black striations on each segment with yellow and black tubercles. The caterpillars also feature a characteristic that is used to distract potential predators and emit defensive chemicals.
Even though small insular populations of polydamas swallowtail's are threatened, here in Belize the species fairs quite well.