Giant Swallowtails Resident Species In Northern New England
Those of us who live in northern New England are enjoying being able to spot the largest butterfly in North America living among us. With a 5 ½” – 7 ½” wingspread, the Giant Swallowtail’s (Papilio cresphontes) common name is very apt. This butterfly has experienced dramatic range expansion in the last decade or so, as it was formerly found only as far north as the mid-Atlantic. Now it is a regular New England inhabitant, primarily due to increasingly warm temperatures, and a common visitor to flower gardens at this time of year.
The larval stage of the Giant Swallowtail is as impressive, or more so, as the adult butterfly. Its defense mechanisms include resemblance to a bird dropping and a forked appendage that emits toxic chemicals (see https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/giant-swallowtail-caterpillar-defenses/).
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