Giant Swallowtail
Papilio cresphontes

Size:
Wingspan is 3 1/2 - 5 1/2 inches.

Similar Species:
None.

Habitat:
Woodlands, power line cuts, moist forests, swamps and along waterways.

Range/Abundance:
Uncommon to rare in the region. Figure Eight Island and Fort Fisher in NC or further south near the coast are your best bet to find this species in the Carolinas. In the Virginias they are usually only found in the mountains, just a few records exist in the NC mountains.

Flight Period:
Adults fly from late April into November in two broods with a gap between broods. Best found in late summer.

Larval Host Plants:
Prickly Ash Xanthaxylum americanum, Hercules' Club Zanthoxylum clava-herculis and Hoptree Ptelea trifoliata are the hosts in the northern regions and citrus species are used in the southern regions.

Comments:
These swallowtails seem to be in transit when seen and you would be lucky to see one up close in the region.

My first NC Giant Swallowtail was seen on Figure Eight Island. Vice president Al Gore was staying on the island at the time and his G men made me put my camera in the trunk of the car thinking I was a paparazzi.

In July of 2003 hundreds of Giant Swallowtails were reported seen at Bald Head Island, NC. Normally seeing a handful in the Carolinas is exceptional!

The top and second photos were taken by Bob Moul in PA. The third and bottom photos were taken in the Carolina Pavilion Butterfly House in Durham NC.

 

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Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes
Mouse over the above image to see identification keys.

Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes
Mouse over the above image to see identification keys.
Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes
Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes
Giant Swallowtail nectaring on lantana.

All images are the copyright of Randy Emmitt and Bob Moul. Please request permission or purchase a license to use these images for anything other than personal use. Visit these links for inquiries on image licensing and CD purchases. Also visit our website at www.rlephoto.com