The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

by Donna Lewis

Last Saturday, it was hot and windy, so it was hard to get photos of butterflies when the plants were swaying in the breeze.  But I did the best I could. There were several species of butterflies in my garden today:  Gulf Coast Fritillaries, Pipevine Swallowtails, Clouded Sulphurs, and the big Giant Swallowtails.

This is very late in the year for these huge butterflies to be here.  I think the extended hot weather has brought about this event.

Giants are so graceful and beautiful. You can recognize them by the two bands of yellow spots across its open wings, and the small eyes at the bottom of their hind legs. They can be as big as six inches across. They love citrus tree leaves and may defoliate small trees. It will not kill the tree.

They love Rue, Butterfly Bushes, Coneflowers, Sunflowers, and Zinnias. 

Their host plant is the Prickly Ash. They lay their little orange eggs on top of the leaves. As it hatches into a caterpillar, it changes its appearance to look like bird droppings. Who would want to eat that?

The chrysalis stays in place through the winter.

So, if you see something that looks nasty on a leaf, leave it!  It may be a beautiful butterfly next spring.

Remember who you are gardening for.

Caterpillars Galore!

by Larry Kocian

A few weeks ago, I noticed a Swallowtail butterfly flying frantically in my tropical garden, going back and forth. It would land on this volunteer plant that I didn’t know what it was until now. I realized that this Swallowtail was laying its eggs on this plant.

Happy babies

It turns out the volunteer tree is a Prickly Ash. After the egg laying, I noticed five caterpillars a few weeks later. They look like bird poop. They were happily eating each day and staying here.

They did a good job chomping at the ash!

I would check them daily. Then over time, I noticed one disappeared. Then the next couple of days, two more disappeared. Oops.

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