GIANT SWALLOWTAIL

Papilio cresphontes

SWALLOWTAIL FAMILY (Papilionidae)


Description

This large, dark swallowtail has a 4 - 5 inch wingspan.  It is dark brown to black dorsally, with broad yellow bands across the upper forewings and around the hindwings.  There is a blue spot above an orange spot at the base of the hindwing. The long black tails have a large, yellow spot in the center.  Ventrally, the wings are yellow with black veins and borders, and the hindwing has  an orange spot at the base and a row of blue chevrons across the middle.  The abdomen is yellow.  Males and females are very similar in appearance.  The mature caterpillar is 2 1/8 to 2 3/8 inches in length and lumpy in appearance.  It has a dark brown face with a white slash mark wrapped around it.  Sometimes red scent horns are visible protruding from the head.  The rest of the body is marked with alternating brown and white blotches making the caterpillar resemble a large bird dropping.  



Occurrence

These swallowtails are found in sunny, open areas and are commonly seen nectaring on flowers in Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods.



Comments

The caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail is called the Orange Dog.  It erects the red scent horns on the head when threatened.  These glands emit a foul odor which deters predators.  The host plant of the larvae in Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods is Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum).





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Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

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