Rare Butterfly Rediscovered in Maine

spicebush swallowtail

The Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly species was identified in September by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department biologists. 1934 was the last Maine sighting of the butterfly.  The recent finding was in the hardwood swamps of Berwick and Wells.

spicebush caterpillar


The caterpillar eats the leaves of sassafras and spicebush plants.

“This is now officially one of the largest, most colorful butterflies in the state, and somehow it slipped under our radar screen for the past 75 years,’’ said Phillip deMaynadier, the biologist who rediscovered the species.

The butterfly lives in the Eastern US and parts of Ontario.

Image Credit: Spicebush Swallowtail Wikipedia, and Poppy2323

4 thoughts on “Rare Butterfly Rediscovered in Maine”

  1. I grew up Berwick Maine not far from where they found these butterflies. Now I live in NH not too far from there and we have these all over. Being so near by it surprises me that they haven’t been seen in Maine since 1934 until recently. I have a lot of Sassafras on my property. Apparently they prefer Spicebush over Sassafras though since I recently decided to plant some Spicebush and right away these caterpillars started to ravage my bushes. I carefully moved all the caterpillars I found over to the Sassafras where they will have much more to eat anyway.

  2. @ tom: Yes, they can also be yellow. The caterpillar should look like the above picture but the greens would be yellow. This occurs right before the caterpillar sheds it’s exoskeleton for the last time to become the chrysalis. The spicebush swallowtails are not uncommon in MA, southern NH was considered their absolute northern limit on the east coast.

  3. Are the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar also yellow. My son found one in 1998 in our back yard in Attleboro, MA.

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