giant swallowtail

(Papilio cresphontes)

Conservation Status
giant swallowtail
Photo by Phil Wala
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Giant swallowtail is a large swallowtail butterfly. It is the largest butterfly in North America north of Mexico.

Adults have a wingspan of 4 to 6¼.

The upper side of the wings are dark brown, almost black. There are two bands of bright yellow spots, a subapical band and a basal band. The two bands cross near the tips of the forewings, forming an irregular “X” shape. The is an orange spot and blue scale on the inner margin. The hind wings have “tails” with a large, yellow spot.

The underside of the forewing is dark brown with two bands of pale yellow spots large enough to make the wing appear mostly pale yellow. The underside of the hind wing is mostly pale yellow with a median band of orange spots and blue scales.

The body is pale yellow.

The caterpillar is shiny dark brown with three white spots, mimicking a fresh bird dropping.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 4 to 6¼

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Open woodlands, fields, hillsides near streams.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Two broods: early May, and late June through August.

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Females lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants.

It overwinters as a chrysalis.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

In Minnesota, common hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata ssp. trifoliata) and northern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum).

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 20, 21, 24, 29, 30, 71.

 
  8/7/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Rare stray to Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])  
 

Family

Papilionidae (swallowtails)  
 

Subfamily

Papilioninae (swallowtails)  
 

Tribe

Papilionini (fluted swallowtails)  
 

Genus

Papilio (common swallowtails)  
  Subgenus Heraclides (new world giant swallowtails and allies)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

eastern giant swallowtail

giant swallowtail

orange dog (caterpillar)

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Chrysalis

The pupa (third) stage of a butterfly or moth during which the caterpillar metamorphoses into an adult. In moths, the pupa is enclosed in a silk cocoon. In butterflies, the pupa is naked but protected by a hardened outer shell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 
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Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.
 
 

Jan and Bill Reely

 
  Hello. We live in Forest Lake, MN. We have a 32-year-old orange tree we have grown from a seed. It lives on our back deck during the summer, and in our heated garage in the winter and we keep it carefully pruned into a 9-foot-tall globe. When watering it this evening, I noticed this larva on one of the leaves. My husband identified it as a Giant Swallowtail Larva. If we are reading correctly, this should winter over and hatch next spring? We have cut off the branch and put it in water in a large mesh bug hut so we can protect it from any predators. Feel free to comment or ask any questions. Thanks.   giant swallowtail  
 

Kay & John Walker

 
 

Giant Swallowtail sighting - 08/04/2021

We had this beauty show up on our townhouse patio this morning. S/he stayed around for about 40 minutes. Wings fluttered much like a hummingbird.

We have several planters and s/he went for the red and bright pink flowers.

The very best nature gift of retirement so far!

  giant swallowtail  
           
    giant swallowtail   giant swallowtail  
           
    giant swallowtail   giant swallowtail  
           
    giant swallowtail   giant swallowtail  
           
    giant swallowtail      
 

Sara Nagel

 
 

Enjoying the Phlox

 
    giant swallowtail   giant swallowtail  
           
    giant swallowtail      
 

Alfredo Colon

 
 

Butterly and details.

 
    giant swallowtail   giant swallowtail  
           
    giant swallowtail      
 

Margot Avey

 
    giant swallowtail      
 

Deb Mowry

 
 

A surprise in my zinnia garden

 
    giant swallowtail      
 

Norm & Peg Dibble

 
 

Giant Swallowtail last Summer 2018

 
    giant swallowtail      
 

Chris Mosley

 
  This lovely butterfly floated around our front yard, and stopped long enough in the sunshine for me to take a photo (admittedly, a phone shot), then floated away again   giant swallowtail  
 

Candice Christensen

 
    giant swallowtail      
 

Jason

 
  Amazing color. HUGE compared to the other moths and butterflies in the garden.   giant swallowtail  
 

Elizabeth Welty

 
    giant swallowtail      
 

Phil Wala

 
    giant swallowtail      
 

Tom Baker

 
    giant swallowtail   giant swallowtail  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
    giant swallowtail      
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Giant Swallowtail
DianesDigitals
  Giant Swallowtail  
 
About

Copyright DianesDigitals

Giant Swallowtail - Papilio cresphontes

 
Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
Allen Chartier
  Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)  
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)  
Giant Swallowtail
jt893x
  Giant Swallowtail  
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
tomb0171
   
 
About

Uploaded on Feb 18, 2011

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

* Family: Papilionidae,
* Genus: Papilio,
* Species: P. cresphontes,
* Phylum: Arthropoda,
* Class: Insecta,
* Order: Lepidoptera,
* Type: Bugs,
* Diet: Omnivore,
* Average life span in the wild: Several weeks to several years,
* Size: adults wingspan is about 100--160 mm (3.9--6.3 in),
* Weight: no data

** Papilio cresphontes is a swallowtail butterfly common in various parts of North America, particularly the south and east.

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_sw...

 
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this insect.

 
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Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.
 
 

Kirsten Avraamides

 
  giant swallowtail 02
8/9/2020
 
   
 
About

giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Coon Rapids, MN
8/9/2020
Spent a lot of time in the Phlox. Has very fast beating of wings.
Video by Kirsten Avraamides

   
 

Candice Christensen

 
  giant swallowtail 01
Published on Aug 14, 2018
 
   
 
About

Kasson, Dodge County

In the phlox garden

   
       
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Schmetterling Papilio cresphontes
Chrigu wälti
 
   
 
About

Published on Nov 11, 2012

Schmetterling Papilio cresphontes

http://www.Tierportraet.ch

 
  The Osmeterium of the Swallowtail Butterfly Larva(Papilio cresphontes)
texrednface
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Sep 8, 2009

"The Osmeterium" of the Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) is a defense organ. The red "y-shaped" osmeterium extends when the larva is irritated. It emits a strong odor to repel some predators. Dr. J. W. Holloway demonstrates by stimulating the larva with a pair of blunt scissors. This larva was not harmed during the making of this video. ©2009 Dr. J. W. Holloway

 
  Almost tame Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes)
Manfred Keller
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 12, 2012

The Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) is a swallowtail butterfly common in various parts of North America and marginally into South America (Colombia and Venezuela only). In the United States and Canada it is mainly found in the south and east. With a wingspan of about 10--16 cm (3.9--6.3 in) it is the largest butterfly in Canada and the United States.This Giant gorgeous creature is even 7.8 inches wide. It slept in our backyard in Texas and was still there the next morning to say Hi

 
  Papilio cresphontes
felipe JDM
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 9, 2013

No description available.

 

 
  GIANT Swallowtail Butterfly mineral siphoning and butterfly pee slow motion HD 1080p
GREENPOWERSCIENCE
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 25, 2011

http://greenpowerscience.com/

This Papilio Cresphontes is collecting minerals from the mud in our backyard. The Swallowtail Butterfly pees at 2:07

Casio EXILIM Pro EX-F1 at 300 fps

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Jan and Bill Reely
8/19/2021

Location: Forest Lake, MN

Hello. We live in Forest Lake, MN. We have a 32-year-old orange tree we have grown from a seed. It lives on our back deck during the summer, and in our heated garage in the winter and we keep it carefully pruned into a 9-foot-tall globe. When watering it this evening, I noticed this larva on one of the leaves. My husband identified it as a Giant Swallowtail Larva. If we are reading correctly, this should winter over and hatch next spring? We have cut off the branch and put it in water in a large mesh bug hut so we can protect it from any predators. Feel free to comment or ask any questions. Thanks.

giant swallowtail

 
  Kay & John Walker
8/4/2021

Location: Sighted in Otsego Township, Wright County (about 4 miles south of Elk River)

We had this beauty show up on our townhouse patio this morning. S/he stayed around for about 40 minutes. Wings fluttered much like a hummingbird.

We have several planters and s/he went for the red and bright pink flowers.

The very best nature gift of retirement so far!

giant swallowtail

 
  Andy Frank
7/31/2021

Location: Winona County, 5 miles southwest of Mississippi River

Visiting flowering burdock plants near woodland edge at base of bluff, about 1/2 mile from creek

 
  Collette Adkins
7/25/2020

Location: Wild River State Park, along river trail

So big that at first I thought I was seeing two butterflies flying together

 
  Sara Nagel
7/23/2020

Location: Mound, MN

Enjoying the Phlox

giant swallowtail

 
  Alfredo Colon
9/29/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

giant swallowtail

 
  Margot Avey
8/29/2019

Location: Ramsey, MN

giant swallowtail

 
  Diane Flatz
8/24/2019

Location: SW of Annandale, MN

The first time I have seen this lovely butterfly. It flitted throughout my garden for quite a while visiting mostly phlox and hydrangeas.

 
  Paula L. Savage
8/23/2019

Location: Independence, MN

First ever sighting in my yard.  On Meadow Blazing Star after it took over from Monarch.  Monarch flying around waiting for it to leave.

 
  Joan O
8/21/2019

Location: Ham Lake, MN

we always have yellow swallowtails but I ve never seen one like this before. 

 
  Melissa McMahon
8/19/2019

Location: Minnetrista, MN

I have lots of butterflies in my garden that I can identify or have seen before, but this was a first for me.  They are so big!  He was enjoying the phlox and balloon flowers in my garden this afternoon.

 
  Deb Mowry
7/30/2019

Location: Olmsted

A surprise in my zinnia garden

giant swallowtail

 
  Norm & Peg Dibble
Summer 2018

Location: Maple Grove, MN

giant swallowtail

 
  MuckStar
8/26/2018

Location: Southwest Minneapolis

Flying into a stiff southern breeze, heading toward the phlox along the driveway.

 
  Diane
8/13/2018

Location: Saint Paul

I did not see the butterfly, but I had 7 eggs, and now 7 little caterpillars on my rue plant. First time ever!

 
  Chris Mosley
8/10/2018

Location: 6 miles south of Prior Lake in Scott County

This lovely butterfly floated around our front yard, and stopped long enough in the sunshine for me to take a photo (admittedly, a phone shot), then floated away again

giant swallowtail

 
  Rebecca Johnson
8/9/2018

Location: Wyoming, MN

Feeding on coral colored phlox

 
  Candice Christensen
8/6/2018

Location: White Bear Lake. Ramsey County, MN

giant swallowtail

 
  William Thomas
7/28/2018

Location: near Miesville MN

Observed three giant swallowtails at one time in garden at Pioneer Village!

 
  Jerry Fruetel
7/22/2018

Location: Bloomington, MN

I took photos for several minutes of this swallowtail on my purple coneflowers. At one point, it sat beside a monarch on the same flower.

 
  Jason
6/10/2018

Location: Lake Elmo

Amazing color. HUGE compared to the other moths and butterflies in the garden.

giant swallowtail

 
  Marlene
8/14 to 8/27//2017

Location: Brooklyn Park, Mn

What a sight to see! My first encounter...loved those moments...Wow!

 
  Kathryn Rudd
On my birthday! August 28

Location: Eagan, Mn

Stayed a long time feeding from my lantana

 
  Janis
8/22/2017

Location: Saint Charles, MN

Beautiful! Large dusty brown/black with soft yellow markings seen in my flower beds on geranium and petunia blooms

 
  Carol
8/6/2016

Location: Albertville. MN, south side of Cedar Creek Golf Course

Fantastic! Amazing sunny day. It was eating nectar from my hanging baskets of petunias.

 
  Elizabeth Welty
7/22/2016

Location: Stillwater, MN

giant swallowtail

 
  Robert
8/10/2014

Location: South Minneapolis near 40th and 40th

11:30 AM

 
  Phil Wala
8/4/2014

Location: Savage, MN

Seen in our wooded backyard in Savage around noon on 8/4/14.

giant swallowtail

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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