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Giant Swallowtail

  • Family name: Papilionidae/Swallowtails
  • General description: wings dark brown; forewing with yellow spot bands crossing near apex; hindwing with yellow spot band, wide yellow basal band, small orange-capped black spot, and spatulate tail with yellow central teardrop. Ventral hindwing yellow with blue central band invaded by rust-orange scaling in center. Abdomen yellow with dark brown dorsal stripe.
  • Field Marks: forewing with yellow spot bands crossing near apex; hndwing tail with yellow teardrop in center
  • Sexes: appear similar
  • Wingspan: 85-140 mm
  • Life Cycle: Egg: orange, spherical, laid singly on host leaves Mature larva: olive-brown with cream-white patches; resembles bird dropping Chrysalis: brown mottled with gray and green
  • Number of Generations: Three or more
  • Flight Season: February-November; all year in south Florida
  • Abundance: Common
  • Habitat: forest margins, roadsides, pastures; citrus groves, gardens, and parks
  • Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, De Soto, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton, Washington
  • Larval Host Plants: wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara), Hercules club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis), hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata) , various cultivated and ornamental citrus (Citrus spp.)
  • Similar Species: Palamedes Swallowtail
  • Additional Information: Adults rest with their wings open. Range is limited in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and California.

Florida wildflower vehicle license plateThe Florida Wildflowers & Butterflies projects at the Florida Museum are sponsored in part by the State of Florida and the Florida Wildflower Foundation, Inc.