Been cataloging pipevine swallowtails in my local park for several years now but I can’t seem to locate their host plants, and I’ve walked many, many miles through this park. Actually nobody has uploaded a single observation of an Aristolochia species within 30 miles of the park. It’s just so frustrating. I’d like to know what I can do to improve my odds, if possible.
Do you usually see the caterpillars, the adults, or both?
If they’re using Virginia snakeroot as a host (Endodeca serpentaria), it’s a small plant without showy flowers, and most people just never notice it. Learn to scan for its odd leaf shape along woodland trailsides and you may have some luck. I’ve actually found populations of this plant before when I spotted the swallowtails darting around to lay eggs on scattered shoots of it.
See also https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/in-the-us-pipevine-swallowtails-seem-quite-common-so-where-are-all-the-pipevines/30023
I assume the adults can fly a good distance. I frequently see them nectaring on garden plants in the middle of town etc. I also think their host plants are underreported because not very obvious/showy so a lot of iNatters probably walk by them without making observations. Pipevine in particular has the habit to hide in the tree canopy and escape notice. I’ve paid more attention to it since the other thread linked above came up and have found it pretty much on every hike in the woods since.
Found a single Endodeca serpentaria on my latest trip. Not at the local park but I’m now familiar with this plant.
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