North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of California

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
JPG -- species photo


Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes Cramer)

Wing span: 4 - 6 1/4 inches (10.2 - 16 cm).

Identification: Forewing with diagonal band of yellow spots. Tails are edged with black and filled with yellow.

Life history: Males patrol for receptive females. Females lay single eggs on host leaves and twigs. Caterpillars resemble bird droppings and eat leaves and young shoots. Chrysalids hibernate.

Flight: Two in the north from May-September; all year in Florida and the Deep South.

Caterpillar hosts: Trees and herbs of the citrus family (Rutaceae) including Citrus species, prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), and hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata).

Adult food: Nectar from lantana, azalea, bougainvilla, bouncing Bet, dame's rocket, goldenrod, Japanese honeysuckle, and swamp milkweed.

Habitat: Many locales including rocky and sandy hillsides near streams or gullies in the north; pine flats, towns, and citrus groves in the south.

Range: Throughout eastern North America west to the Rocky Mountains, south through the desert Southwest to South America. A rare stray to Quebec, North Dakota, and Bermuda.

Conservation: Not required in the United States.

Management needs: Caterpillars ("orange dogs") are occasional pests of citrus.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

References:


Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains.

     Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.



Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies.

     Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48

     color plates.



Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press,

     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:


Brown, J.W., Real, H.G., and D.K. Faulkner. 1992. Butterflies of Baja 

     California. Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Beverly Hills, Calif.



Comstock, J.A. 1927. Butterflies of California. Privately published, Los 

     Angeles, Calif. [Facsimile available from 	Entomological Reprint 

     Specialists, Los Angeles, Calif.]



Dameron, W. 1997. Searching for butterflies in southern California.

     Flutterby Press, Los Angeles, Calif.



Emmel, T.C. Editor. 1998. Systematics of western North American butterflies.

     Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Florida.



Emmel, T. C. and J. F. Emmel. 1973. The Butterflies of Southern California. 

     Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series No. 26.



Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies.  California Natural

     History Guide 51. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los 

     Angeles.

     

Langston, R.L. 1981. The Rhopalocera of Santa Cruz Island, California. Journal

     of Research on the Lepidoptera 18: 24-35.     



Miller, Scott E. 1985. Butterflies of the Califorenia Channel Islands. Journal

     of the Research on the Lepidoptera 23: 282-296.     



Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 

     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.



Orsak, L.J. 1977. The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Museum of 

     Systematic Biology, University of california, Irvine.



Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 

     Privately published, Denver, Colo.



Steiner, J. 1990. Bay Area Butterflies: The Distribution and Natural History 

     of San Francisco Region Rhopalocera. Hayward, Calif.: Hayward State 

     University, Masters Thesis.



Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 

     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.



Tilden, J.W. 1965. Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Region. California 

     Natural History Guide 12. University of California Press, Berkeley and 

     Los Angeles.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
distribution map
map legend

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