This tool is part of the Citrus Resource

Citrus Pests


Giant swallowtail


Scientific name


Papilio cresphontes (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae)

Other common names


orange dog swallowtail

Similar species


Schaus' swallowtail, Papilio aristodemus ponceanus
Schaus' swallowtail is currently only located in the Florida Keys.

Thoas swallowtail, Heraclides thoas
The current distribution of Thoas swallowtail is South America.



United States: In the eastern U.S., New England south to Florida. In the western U.S., Rocky Mountains and throughout the Southwest.

Worldwide: Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.

Native to North and South America.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • Forewing span of 116.8 - 175.3 mm (4.6 - 6.9 in.) for males and 134.6 - 188 mm (5.3 - 7.4 in.) for females.
  • Forewing has diagonal band of yellow spots.
  • Elongated tails on hindwings. Tails have a black edge and are filled in with yellow.
  • Undersides of wings are primarily yellow.
  • Brown chrysalis.
  • Oriented 45 degrees to attachment site.
  • Five larval instars.
  • Resemble bird droppings, black and white blotches on body.
  • When touched will evert its osmeterium which looks like a bright orange-red "Y".
  • Single egg laid on the surface of leaves.
  • 1 - 1.5 mm (0.04 - 0.06 in.) spherical eggs.
  • Cream to brown with an irregular orange coating.


Citrus hosts

All Citrus species and their hybrids.

Non-citrus hosts
  • gasplant, Dictamnus albus
  • Hercules-club, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
  • hoptree, Ptelea trifoliatasea
  • lime pricklyash, Zanthoxylum fagara
  • Mexican orange, Choisya dumosa
  • northern pricklyash, Zanthoxylum americanum
  • rue, Ruta graveolens
  • torchwood, Amyris elemifera
  • white sapote, Casimiroa edulis

Host damage


Larvae eat the leaves with a preference for young leaves.



Adult giant swallowtails fly March - November. Mating occurs in the afternoon. Adults feed on the nectar of many flowers. Mated females lay their eggs singly on the upper surface of leaves. Larvae have 5 instars and feed on the host plant during the night. Pupation occurs in a chrysalis with two silk strings attached to a branch or trunk of the tree.



McAuslane, H. 2011. Featured creatures fact sheet: giant swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes Cramer (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). University of Florida. (



Weeks, J. A., A.C. Hodges, and N.C. Leppla


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012