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Butterflies of Minnesota -- Papilio cresphontes

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Minnesota

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:

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp.
     
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
distribution map
map legend

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