Bug Week


Black Swallowtail

Whenever Gators gather, hues of ORANGE AND BLUE! are always on display.

Some insects show off orange and blue coloration as well. We gathered up a few examples to show you; they all live in territory that includes North Florida, which means they’re flying the Gator colors in Gator Country.

As you’ll see, UF should be proud of its (presumably coincidental) association with some of these species, and perhaps not so proud of others.

Let’s start things off with one of the ORANGE AND BLUE! bugs you’re most likely to see this summer, the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes asterius.

This strikingly beautiful butterfly is one of several swallowtail species in Florida that have orange and blue markings on the undersides of their hind wings.

Here’s a photo — the orange and blue markings look a little bit like a fireworks display.

Other swallowtail species with orange and blue markings on their hind wings include the very pretty pipevine swallowtail, Battus philenor, the spicebush swallowtail, Papilio troilus, (we think it needs more blue) and the Palamedes swallowtail, Papilio palamedes, which you can read about in this Featured Creatures article from the UF entomology department.


We chose to feature the Eastern black swallowtail because it’s well-known and commonly seen along Florida roadsides, in both dry and wet areas. Overall, it’s found from southern Canada throughout the Eastern U.S. and into northern Mexico. (See? The Gator Nation really IS everywhere!)

With wild specimens, it’s hard to get a good look at the orange and blue markings unless the butterfly is at rest. It will often fold its wings vertically when feeding on nectar from a flower or drinking water from a puddle.

Photo by Greg Hume