Giant Swallowtails in Z5 Illinois?

farmboy1(5)August 6, 2014

Today I saw something interesting fly through the neighbor;s yard. It looked like a Giant Swallowtail, a bit larger than a Tiger or Spicebush, and clearly dark brown with some yellow on the wings. Has anyone seen any in the Chicago area?


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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I am in DuPage Co. and have only seen a giant two or three times in the past few years in the early fall or in the spring. I think they were just passing through. To me they seem so much bigger and fly a bit less gracefully than the other swallowtails with their huge wings, so they really stand out even from a distance. According to the BAMONA map they do make it up into northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, but maybe prefer a path closer to the Mississippi river like many birds do. Here is the last one I saw in mid-September 2012 on ironweed. My ironweed is now like 9' tall and has flower buds about to pop so hopefully one will find it this year too.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:28AM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

This is so funny. I was driving from Westchester, IL today (butterfly monitoring), and I thought I saw a GST flying across a major road toward a cemetery (think it was IL 171 just south of Roosevelt incase you know the area).

I've seen them at Camp Sagawau in Lemont, IL last year. So, I hope one comes to my yard soon and finds my new Hop Tree. :)

They are around...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 4:44PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Just read Molanic's description of their flight. The one I saw today was definitely a little lumbering--so I did see one, I bet.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:14PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Pretty picture Molanic!

I have seen a GST in my garden in Mass. for the past 2 summers. Historically they are extremely rare in this state. At first I thought it was a EST but even from a distance it became clear the flight pattern was very different.

No sign of a GST here yet this year. A friend of mine in a town about 10 miles away has probably seen one, based upon her description of the "big yellow butterfly" that was nectaring on their Swamp milkweed for a long time.

I have Ruta graveolens in the garden and last year found 1 P. cresphontes cat. Raised it to a chrysalis, but the chrysalis died over the fall. It probably would not have made it over the winter anyway, I overwinter my Papilio chrysalises outside and it was a long cold winter. Lost 3 of 7 P. polyxenes.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:57PM
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Thanks, so I did see what I thought I saw.....great picture Molanic! I need to get some Ironweed for my yard as well.....


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:11PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Oh, wow! Just had one in my yard--and I think she was trying to find my hop tree!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 2:47PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I just had a female Giant in my back garden today! She was not as large a specimen as I remember in the previous 2 years. She was nectaring on assorted plants, but mostly the Marigolds. She probably would have preferred the Zinnias, but they were sowed late and have only just started blooming.

I didn't see her near the Rue, not sure if she had eggs to lay or not.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:59AM
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I saw a GST fly thru my garden Sunday afternoon around 2:00pm. I saw another larger specimen fly thru several weeks ago. I counted 4 at a butterfly count near Muscoda on Saturday. Apparently, they aren't that uncommon in Southern Wisconsin in mid to late Summer.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 3:06AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Just saw my first giant in almost two years, and on my birthday to boot! It seems to be a very good butterfly day in general. I also saw at least 2 monarchs, 3 tigers, 2 red-spotted purples, a viceroy, american lady, peck's skipper, hummingbird clearwing moth, and of course a bunch of the ever present cabbage whites. This is my favorite time of year in the garden because all the biggies are blooming (joe pye weed, butterfly bush, ironweed, hardy hibiscus, etc.) and the butterflies are abundant.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:56PM
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Sounds like a wonderfully busy day in the garden :-)> That's a great shot of a nectaring GST!
On average, I'll see a couple of Monarchs, some Tiger Swallowtails (BSTs are scarce this season), a female RT Hummer, a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth and maybe a Question Mark.
I see quite a few small Skippers on my Agastache Anise Hyssop.
Earlier this season, I saw a lot of American Ladies and Red Admirals.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:24AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Nice birthday gifts, Molanic. :)

Last year the female Giant showed up on the day of my Dad's funeral service. I thought maybe he sent her to say hello, and it did lift my spirits. She left me at least one egg on the rue, which was also a lift.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:44AM
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