top of page
Butterfly populations are a very good indicator of the health of an area's ecosystem !!
Images contributed by U.S.
photographer Jenn Taggart.
(Papilio cresphontes) the Giant Swallowtail, is the largest butterfly in North America.
It is common across the U.S., reaching as far north as southern New England and southern Canada.
South of the U.S., it is found in parts of Mexico and also Jamaica and Cuba.
It had been thought to occur in the western U.S. and South America, but because of DNA evidence, those populations are now treated as a separate species, (Papilio rumiko).
Due to their very large wingspans, they are extremely strong fliers, and are able to glide long distances with very few wing beats.
They are found primarily in deciduous forests and citrus orchards.
Their wings are black with a single horizontal yellow line across the forewings, and a single diagonal yellow line across the hindwing.
The ventral side wings are pale yellow with black accents.
A small patch of red on the ventral side wing (within the small blue band) distinguishes them from the similar looking but much more limited Schaus' swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus).
Males search for females along established flight lanes and near host plants.
They mate with females in the afternoon and copulate facing away from each other.
Papilio crestphontes has expanded their northern range in recent years, due primarily to warming temperatures caused by climate change.
Diet: caterpillars eat a variety of (Rutacaea) citrus plants.
Diet: adults feed on plant nectar from Lantana, Azaleas, Bougainvilla among others, as well as drinking liquid from animal waste.
Avg. wingspan: 14 - 19 cm / 5.5 - 7.4"
The single biggest threat to butterfly survival is habitat destruction!!
bottom of page