Wild Florida Photo - Papilio cresphontes - Giant swallowtail

Papilio cresphontes

Giant swallowtail

Synonym(s): Heraclides cresphontes

Florida native

Volusia Co. FL 05/13/06
Volusia Co. FL 08/28/05
Volusia Co. FL 06/17/17

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This is a common butterfly throughout Florida much of the year, except during January and February in the northern parts of the state. The range extends throughout much of eastern North America, south through Mexico into Central and South America.
Living up to their name, these are large swallowtails, with wingspans from 14cm (5-1/2 in.) to 19cm (7-1/2 in.), the females are slightly larger than the males. Papilio cresphontes are dark on top with a prominent yellow band of yellow spots from wingtip to wingtip. There are also bands of yellow spots from the leading edge of the forewings more than halfway to the tip, back to the crosswing band of spots, then from there following parallel to the trailing edge of the wings. The underside is mostly pale yellow a black-bordered pale blue band mostly on the hindwing with some small orange spots.
Giant swallowtails are very similar to the closely related rare Schaus' swallowtail of extreme south Florida except that the giant has black tails with a yellow spot in the center and the Schaus' has a yellow edged black tail.
Larval host plants are most members of the citrus family Rutaceae. The caterpillars mostly look like bird droppings, although the late stage larvae develop an enlarged area near the head that resembles a snake head. When threatened, the extended osmeterium may resemble a snake's forked tongue.


Papilio cresphontes is a member of the Papilionidae - Swallowtails family.

Other species of the Papilio genus in the Wild Florida Photo database:
  Papilio glaucus var. australis - FLORIDA TIGER SWALLOWTAIL
  Papilio palamedes - PALAMEDES SWALLOWTAIL
  Papilio polyxenes var. asterius - BLACK SWALLOWTAIL

For more information on this species, visit the following link:
UF Entomology Dept. Featured Creatures page for this species

Date record last modified: Jun 19, 2018

Paul Rebmann Nature Photography at pixels.com