One of our West Gloucester readers, DB, spotted a Giant Swallowtail in her garden! She was too surprised by its appearance to take a photo, and I completely understand why. They are fantastically large in size, as large as a Cecropia Moth. Giant Swallowtails are more of a southern species, but sometimes make it this far north and east, especially during long stretches of hot, humid weather.

Readers, please keep your eyes peeled, and if you can, try to get a snapshot, and please let us know of your sighting. Look for Giant Swallowtails nectaring in your garden; they especially love native Marsh Milkweed, tropicals such as lantana and bougainvilla, also butterfly bushes, Wild Sweet William, and honeysuckle.

I have only see one once in my garden (in 2012) and it was drinking nectar from the lantana growing in pots on my patio. By the time I ran indoors and back to the garden with camera, the Giant Swallowtail was gone. The photos are from wiki commons media so you can id the butterfly if you see one in your garden. Happy spotting!

The yellow will be paler on an older butterfly as the scales wear off, but look for the arrangement of the spots for an id.

Giant Swallowtail Butterflies, with a wingspan of up to 6.5 inches across, are noticeably larger than Eastern and Canadian Tiger Swallowtails (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, left, Giant Swallowtail, right).


  1. Curt Klefstad 715 505 8000

    I saw a huge black butterfly – was weired looking. Took photos, looks as tho the two were mating and did not want to be disturbed. They were belly to belly and attached at the end of their bodies, heads in opposite directions. have photos I will share if someone can tell me how they breed. It was photoed in Boyceville, WI in the afternoon on Sept 9th 2019. The items were giant swallowtails. They flew out of a bush at about the height of 5′. The top one had trouble flying with the other attached underneath and landed on the ground. From there I took the pictures. Nature is GREAT
    Contact Curt Klefstad

  2. Corina M

    I saw a Giant Swallowtail just about an hour ago around 12:30am under my back porch light here in Monrovia, CA. Not sure if it’s common to see at night but it was a powerful moment for me personally!


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