The grand Giant Swallowtail is a large North American butterfly that never fails to make an impression.
This is the largest species of butterfly in North America. The Giant Swallowtail is enormous when it comes to butterflies. Seeing one may just be something to remember for a lifetime. Wingspans can be as wide as 19 cm (almost 7.5 inches). The top (dorsal) side of the butterfly is mostly black. A bright yellow bar stretches from across the forewings, tip to tip. A second diagonal band on each wing crosses it. This striking pattern is visible when the wings are resting flat. The color under the wings is primarily yellow. A black band crossed the center of the wing, and it is studded with light blue crescents. A rusty red patch sits in the center of the wing. An orange and blue eyespot sits at the inner edge of each hindwing. Like all Swallowtails, the Giant Swallowtail has an extension, or tail, at the bottom edge of each hindwing. It is black with a small yellow oval at the tip.
Adults drink flower nectar from a variety of plants. Milkweed, honeysuckle, azaleas, and lantana are popular places to find them. Comfortable in both developed and undeveloped areas, they can be found in residential flower gardens, managed citrus groves, and at the edges of forests. They are great pollinators and, for that reason, are very beneficial to have in the garden.
Orange spherical eggs are laid on study parts of a host plant. The caterpillar is orange, black, white, and brown and has been called an "orange dog". It could easily be mistaken as bird droppings on a leaf. A red osmeterium at the head resembles a forked tongue or antennae. This has a pungent odor that wards off would-be predators. They tend to enjoy eating the leaves of citrus trees like oranges and lemons, and are common in Florida. Because of that, citrus farmers consider them a pest.
In warmer, southern areas, many generations can exist in one year. They are active year-round, but less likely to be seen in the middle of winter. They fly at heights close to human heads and higher as opposed to low to the ground.
Scientific Name: Papilio cresphontes
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 86mm to 140mm (3.35in to 5.46in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.