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Giant swallowtail

Posted by tucker_sp Z4 MN (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 16, 11 at 17:50

Hello, All - I live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and yesterday I was puttering around in the back yard, when a particularly large and brightly colored giant swallowtail floated through the yard without landing (although we do have lots of butterfly-attracting flowers) and went off down the alley. I have lived here for 25 years, and this is the first GST that I have seen here. Does anyone know the extent of their range, north and west? Minnesota, at least in the south, does have one of their common food plants, prickly ash, in lots of areas.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Giant swallowtail

Aren't they a thrill to see? Their coloring is stunning.

RE: Giant swallowtail

My maps only show their range as far as the extreme southeastern corner of Minnesota, so, assuming this map is correct, your giant swallowtail was slightly out of its natural zone.
If they've been as common everywhere else in their primary zone - Florida, northern Gulf Coast areas, south Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Arizona and southern California - as they have been here, I'm not surprised they're pushing northward. I released my 32nd one today with more chrysalides in the cages, and I've found 10 eggs (at last count) on my Ptelea trifoliatas. The one I released today had the thin, female-indicating crossbar and her body bulged, so I think she has a lot of eggs in her.
This has been a good year for 'em!
Congrats on your sighting!

RE: Giant swallowtail

Lucky you! I've seen just a couple here this year but haven't found any cats or eggs.

On, you can look get a list for your state by clicking on "regional checklist" near the top, then after you select United States under "region", you can select your state. Then click "apply" and it will list the butterflies for your state.
If you click on Giant Swallowtail and scroll down, it will show a map with the sightings. The orange dots show the most recent sightings. You can click on the dots and then "more details" to get specific info about where they were spotted and when.

Here is a link that might be useful: map for Giant Swallowtails -

sightings in Minnesota

The map shows verified sightings this year in Anoka County and Dakota County in Minnesota. It's interesting that they're so far north. Maybe the heat and drought in the south is driving them north.

RE: Giant swallowtail

Thanks for the responses! I formerly lived in both Florida and Indiana, where these butterflies are common. Really nice to see even one here. Now if only I could find a pipevine on my wild ginger. No hope for zebras, though.


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