Monday, July 26, 2010

Giant Swallowtail

Papilio cresphontes is the largest butterfly species in North America. They can be found throughout the Southern United States and Mexico, and in spattered areas across the Eastern and Central United States.

Image from Florida HTR
Giant Swallowtails are pretty easy to pick out. Not only are they large, with wingspans of up to 6 inches, but they have some pretty interesting coloration. The wings of the adults are black, but a horizontal band of yellow crosses from wing to wing, with additional mirrored yellow patterns found below, and possibly above, this band. Red marking are also sometimes found in the tail. Caterpillars are brown with white splotches, which camouflages them to look a lot like bird droppings. They are called "Orangedogs" due to an orange gland that acts as a further defense mechanism by secreting a toxin.

Giant Swallowtails feed off the nectar of a variety of plants, including Azaleas and Goldenrods. The caterpillars feed off of Citrus trees, and are considered to be pests by growers of Sweet Oranges. Giant Swallowtails prefer to lay their eggs on Citrus plants, and they do so by laying single eggs on various trees. The larvae eventually hatch, and then go through five phases before they form a chrysalis.

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog :D
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~


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