Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

(Papilio cresphontes)



The Giant Swallowtail.

This beauty can be found throughout much of the United States, but is especially common in the South.

It can be seen throughout the year in warmer regions and from spring to fall in cooler regions.

It has the distinction of being known as much for its larvae (called orange dogs) as for the adult butterflies.

The larvae can be notorious pests on citrus crops, especially orange trees.

This is useful information for butterfly gardeners that want to attract this giant.

Giant swallowtail

Description:

This species of Swallowtail is black above with yellow wing patches.

It is mostly yellow below, with black veins and margins.

From wing tip to wing tip this large butterfly can measure 3 and 5/8 inches to 5 and 1/2 inches making it our largest swallowtail.

Habitat:

This species frequents various open areas, including parks, orchards and gardens.

Habits:

A long, high, lilting flight pattern characterizes this species of Swallowtail. As with other swallowtails, males patrol in search of females ready to mate.

Males will also visit mud puddles and standing water, taking in moisture and nutrients.

Larvae and host plants:

Various types of citrus trees, especially orange trees, are the principal host for the larvae. Larvae are brown with mottled white patches, especially on the rear end.

At a quick glance, it appears to look like bird droppings. One of nature's defenses against predation.

Nectar plants:

Honeysuckle (Loniceria), azalea (Rhododendron), goldenrod (Solidago), citrus trees (Citrus sinensis) and a host of other nectar rich blooms.

Be sure to plant larval hosts with your bloomers to insure another crop of Swallowtails in your gardens.

And don't forget a mud puddle, you may enjoy a Giant Swallowtail congregation at the watering hole so to speak.

Giant Swallowtail and other common butterflies

Create a butterfly friendly yard

Create a butterfly garden

Nectar flowers and plants

Butterfly learning center

Offer water for all of your wildlife

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