09 October 2011

Giant Swallowtail Butterflies

This afternoon an adult giant swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) was all over the lantana flowers. They are so shy it is difficult to snap photos of them. Then it flitted rapidly which is usually a sign of eggs.

 I checked the Rue and Moon Carrot plants carefully and counted 22 newly hatched caterpillars/larvae.

Here's the life cycle in photos - some taken last year and some this year

Single eggs are deposited on a leaf

Indiviual eggs on leaves

Newly hatched larvae

A few days later, they have the same appearance but are larger

Then, they take on their characteristic bird droppings appearance.




This butterfly is the largest one. Its other common name is Orange Dog because they decimate citrus trees - not killing the trees but damaging crops. Northeast OK used to be just barely in their range but their range has grown significantly.

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