Giant Swallowtail: # 17 of “23 Butterflies in 2023”

Leonard Weber

May 15, 2023

It is always a pleasure to watch a Giant Swallowtail in Eliza Howell Park. It is the largest butterfly here, with a 6-inch wingspan.

Most years, it can be seen from time to time in the park, especially in late July and early August. It is not common or numerous here, but it is always a highlight.

It is dark brown (almost black) with long lines of brifht yellow spots. And, as is the case with other swallowtails, it has an extension on each hind wing.

The underside is much lighter.

Giant Swallowtail is more common in the south, Detroit being near the northern edge of its less common range.

Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America

Giant Swallowtail often comes to flowers for nectar. Perhaps because of the time of the summer that it is present here, I have often had success in finding it visiting Purple Coneflower.

Giant Swallowtail survives the winter in the chrysalis stage. Since it doesn’t seem to show up here until at least the middle of July, I am thinking that the ones that I see perhaps didn’t winter here, but developed further south and drifted north as the summer progressed.

Strikingly large and attractive, the Giant Swallowtail is a butterfly that is easy to recognize. And it is unforgettable.

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