The spectacular spicebush swallowtail butterfly graces the third butterfly stamp by the USPS.
The stamp art was created on a computer, using images of preserved butterflies as a starting point. The result is a highly stylized, simplified image of a spicebush swallowtail rather than an exact replica.
Both as caterpillars and adults, spicebush swallowtails hide from their predators in plain sight. They do this by mimicking other animals and even inedible objects. When very young, the brown and white caterpillar resembles a bird dropping. The caterpillar later morphs into what looks like a small green snake, with yellow and black markings that resemble a snake's eyes and a false forked tongue. The butterfly's chrysalis mimics a dried brown leaf, complete with veins.
Nationally known artist Tom Engeman worked with art director Derry Noyes on this design.